A few balls hit off Wainwright that could've been caught wind up landing in outfield
LOS ANGELES -- For 60 feet, six inches, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright has complete control of what happens on the baseball field. However, after a pitch leaves his hand, it's up to the defense.
Although the Cards did not commit any errors in a 3-0 loss to the Dodgers in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, the defense did not do Wainwright any favors. Game 4 is on Tuesday (7 p.m. CT on TBS).
"It wasn't very characteristic of how we played all season," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Our team has done a great job of improving defensively. We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don't. We're a better club than this."
Wainwright allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings, but three of those hits could have easily been outs.
"As a pitcher, you just got to keep pitching," Wainwright said. "I didn't make a couple pitches tonight. I felt in command of pretty much everything I had, but there were a couple times where I left some pitches where they could hit it."
In the first, Hanley Ramirez blooped a single into shallow center field, but center fielder Jon Jay was playing deep, and the ball fell between him and the Cards' infielders.
In the fourth, Mark Ellis led off the inning with what appeared to be a lazy fly ball to right-center. Instead, Jay -- who set a franchise record for an oufielder with 245 errorless games from Aug. 25, 2011, to July 30, 2013 -- and right fielder Carlos Beltran had a lapse in communication, and the ball dropped between them.
"As soon as the ball was hit in the air, I was going after the baseball," Beltran said. "But most importantly, I looked at [Jay], and he was almost there. I just went to back him up, and the ball fell. I think he hesitated. It's a play that, as a center fielder -- and I was a center fielder before -- you have to take charge. He knows that."
In the fifth, A.J. Ellis hit a ball to deep center field that glanced off Jay's glove and resulted in a triple. Although Wainwright kept Ramirez from scoring in the first and stranded Ellis at third in the fifth, he was not able to pitch around all the defensive miscues.
After the fly ball fell between Jay and Beltran in the fourth, the Dodgers scored a pair of runs, which turned out to be enough to stick Wainwright with the loss despite a quality start.
The Cardinals' defense may have influenced the outcome, but Wainwright -- pitching in his fourth postseason and coming off a 19-win season in which he posted a 2.94 ERA -- wasn't concerned with any of that following the game.
What was on his mind was how he could have done better in the 60-foot, six-inch space that he controls.
"I never comment on all that," Wainwright said. "All I know is there are a couple pitches I could have made in front of [the defense] tonight."
William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com.