Game 3 victory gives Dodgers needed confidence boost
Los Angeles gets back in series with shutout of Cardinals heading into Game 4
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers went through extreme peaks and valleys during the regular season, so they weren't discouraged after losing the first two games of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series in St. Louis.
"There's nothing that's going to rattle this team," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
That proved to be the case Monday night at a sold-out Dodger Stadium. With their backs against the wall, the Dodgers responded in Game 3 with a 3-0 victory over the Cardinals.
"We got the game that we knew we needed to get today," outfielder Carl Crawford said. "We feel real confident even though we're still down 2-1. We feel like we can go out there and get the job done and get this series back to St. Louis."
Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu shut down the Cardinals over seven brilliant innings, putting to rest doubts about the rookie's health and mindset following a poor start in Game 3 of the Division Series against Atlanta.
"I think he was pretty nervous against the Braves and I think he kind of told himself that's not going to happen again," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "He's a very good pitcher. He's had an amazing year and he was great for us tonight."
Ryu has a knack for raising his game on the big stage. While he did not live up to that billing in the NLDS, the left-hander showed Monday he can still come through in big games. Given a second chance to prove himself in October, Ryu allowed just one runner to reach scoring position.
"He pitched one of his best games tonight and he couldn't have picked a better time to do it," Crawford said.
The Dodgers also picked the opportune time to break a scoreless drought that reached 22 innings.
Mark Ellis led of the fourth inning with a double, catching a break when his catchable fly ball found the grass in right-center after miscommunication between center fielder Jon Jay and right fielder Carlos Beltran. Hanley Ramirez, playing through the pain of a hairline fracture of the eighth rib on his left side, lifted a deep fly to right allowing Ellis to tag and advance to third. That set the stage for Adrian Gonzalez, who brought Ellis home with a double down the right-field line.
It was the first hit for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position since the third inning of Game 1.
"Driving him in was a big boost for us," Gonzalez said. "With the struggles we've had with runners in scoring position, it kind of gave us a little bit of a release there to just kind of relax and keep going. For me, that was a big situation, and it was just a great feeling to come through."
Yasiel Puig scored Gonzalez with a triple off the fence in right, the rookie's first hit of the NLCS and the Dodgers' first run with two outs since Game 1.
"That was something we had been missing, those big two-out RBIs," A.J. Ellis said. "That's what carried us in the Atlanta series. For him to get that big triple was a lift off his shoulders and helped us get a little bit of support."
Crawford added an insurance run in the eighth, racing home from second on Ramirez's bloop single just in time to beat the tag by catcher Yadier Molina.
"I just had to score," Crawford said. "Every run is big in the playoffs. I was just trying to get across that plate."
With their offense back from a brief hiatus and another solid performance from the pitching staff, the Dodgers are riding high heading into Tuesday's Game 4 (5 p.m. PT on TBS).
"We feel like we're right in this series," Mark Ellis said. "But we've got to keep playing good baseball, execute and keep doing the things we did tonight. If we keep doing this, I think we're going to be just fine."