LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers capitalized on four errors by the Cardinals and a breakout night from Yasiel Puig to grab an 8-4 win in Friday's series opener at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling didn't have his strongest showing, allowing four runs in five-plus innings, but it was all he needed to earn his first big league victory. And it couldn't have come against a more familiar opponent, friend and former Texas A&M roommate Michael Wacha.
Helping Stripling get his benchmark win, the Dodgers' offense came through to score its fourth-highest run total of the season. Puig went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBIs to lead the charge as L.A. scored at least once in each of the second through sixth innings.
"In general, we've been swinging the bats better, getting better at-bats," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "To get rewarded, put some hits together, put some runs on the board, give us a little breathing room, it was certainly good to see."
It was a defensive struggle all night for St. Louis, as only three of the Dodgers' runs were earned. That didn't help Wacha on a night when he was already working without his best stuff. The right-hander allowed six runs (two earned) on eight hits in four innings with two strikeouts and three walks.
"Errors are going to happen in games," Wacha said. "It's all about how you deal with them. I have to do a better job of, when those errors do happen, getting the next guy out, making your pitches, not letting it bother you. I feel like anybody on this team is good enough to get four outs in an inning without them scoring."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bragging rights to Stripling: Stripling said Thursday that his trash talk with Wacha centered mostly on who would get a hit off the other. As the Dodgers rallied for three runs in the second inning, it was point Stripling as he knocked a line drive to right field for a two-out single, his first big league hit. He also reached base on shortstop Aledmys Diaz's second error before scoring in the fourth.
"He threw a fastball down the middle," Stripling said. "Then he threw me a fastball away and I was late as heck and I flicked it over the head of the first baseman. Off the bat, I thought I might have me a double here, then I look up and the right fielder is playing right there. But it was pretty cool." More >
Defensive complications: The Cardinals entered the day with the Majors' worst fielding percentage and endured another tumultuous night in the field that led to five unearned runs. Diaz committed three of them, bringing his season total to nine in 31 games at shortstop. Those included fumbled grounders to open the second and fourth, innings in which the Dodgers scored a combined four unearned runs. It marked the team's first four-error game since May 2011.
"I played very bad defense today," Diaz said. "It cost us a lot of runs. I thought Wacha made good pitches. He got ground balls, and we weren't able to make the plays on the defense. I'm frustrated by that, for sure." More >
Puig breaks out: Puig entered Friday in the middle of a slump, with a 3-for-24 line in the last week with zero extra-base hits and zero walks. He responded with a showing that included a home run in the sixth inning to give the Dodgers their final run of the night.
"I was happy for [Puig]," Roberts said. "He's been working hard, and like we've talked about, these last few days he's had good at-bats, hit the ball hard, and had nothing to show for it. Then, today he got rewarded." More >
Grichuk's grab: A night in which the Cardinals' defense unraveled actually began with a highlight play by center fielder Randal Grichuk, who robbed Howie Kendrick of a leadoff homer in the first inning. With a perfectly timed leap, Grichuk brought back his second homer of the season and atoned for the one that went off his glove at Angel Stadium a night earlier.
"I knew I'd have a chance to make a play close to the wall, and it carried a little bit more than I thought," Grichuk said. "Luckily, this time I was able to go up and make a play. Those are the ones you dream of." More >
"Those guys prepare every day, and it's good to see them get rewarded. They're throwing the ball much better, and I think that it's one of those things where they're feeding off one another. ... Their confidence hasn't wavered, so it's good to see. It really is." -- Roberts, on the Dodgers' bullpen, which hasn't allowed a run since May 7, a span of 19 innings
"It's kind of tough congratulating him on his first win, but it's probably one of many more for that guy. He's a great competitor, a great pitcher. Good for him, but I wish it wouldn't have come tonight." -- Wacha, on his former college teammate outdueling him
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With triples in the second and sixth innings, Kolten Wong became the first Cardinals player since Colby Rasmus on May 27, 2011, to have two in a game.
Cardinals: After taking a week to recover from a respiratory illness, Carlos Martinez will return to the mound on Saturday as the Cardinals face the Dodgers in an 8:10 p.m. CT game. Martinez had to exit his last start due to fatigue, which led the club to push this start back an extra two days.
Dodgers:Scott Kazmir starts for the Dodgers in the 6:10 p.m. PT game, facing the Cardinals for the first time in six years. Kazmir needs to do a better job keeping the ball in the park. His nine home runs allowed equal 2.2 per nine innings, compared to his career average of one homer per nine innings.
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