LOS ANGELES -- Doctors said Kenley Jansen could pitch Monday night, they just didn't say how he would pitch.The All-Star closer's heartbeat was back to normal, but not the cutter, as he allowed back-to-back home runs two pitches apart to Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter leading off the ninth inning
LOS ANGELES -- Doctors said Kenley Jansen could pitch Monday night, they just didn't say how he would pitch.
The All-Star closer's heartbeat was back to normal, but not the cutter, as he allowed back-to-back home runs two pitches apart to Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter leading off the ninth inning and took the loss as the Dodgers were shocked by the Cardinals, 5-3, slipping 2 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West, their largest deficit since July 1.
Jansen -- activated before the game for his first appearance since experiencing an irregular heartbeat in Denver 11 days earlier -- was asked to pitch the ninth inning of a game the Dodgers rallied from a three-run deficit to tie in the seventh inning. That came on a pinch-hit RBI single by Player Page for Max Muncy off a 103.1-mph fastball from Jordan Hicks, the fastest pitch for a base hit all year.
Relievers Pedro Baez and Kenta Maeda successfully kept the game winnable after a four-plus inning start by Alex Wood, but Jansen let it get away. The Dodgers are counting on Jansen's return to provide stability for a bullpen in disarray, having lost five games in the opponent's final at-bat during Jansen's absence and blown leads or ties in nine of the last 11 games. The last seven Dodgers losses were suffered by seven different relief pitchers.
Manager Dave Roberts insisted Jansen was ready to jump back in the pennant race and didn't second-guess management's decision not to try a Minor League rehab game first.
"I think it was just lack of execution," said Roberts. "His arm was in shape, look at the stuff, 93s coming out of his arm and I thought he threw the ball well, but he got it middle-middle to Gyorko and again to another good hitter, Carpenter. He's the best we have, he was chomping at the bit to get out there. He's the guy we trust and it just didn't turn out."
Jansen said he was so excited to be activated, he might have been a little too excited.
"The first two hitters, I wasn't in my comfort zone," Jansen said. "I think I tried to maybe be amped up to be back and try hard and everything flattened out. I definitely didn't come back too soon. Stuff happens, but you've got to move forward. Tomorrow, if I have a shot, same hitters, I'm looking forward to it."
The erratic Dodgers offense, unable to homer, scored only three runs despite 10 walks and a hit batter. They stranded 14 runners and were 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position while continuing their struggles at home. They are 32-31 at Dodger Stadium and haven't finished a season with a losing record at home since 2005.
With solid outings by Baez and Maeda, Roberts said he's convinced Jansen's return will have the expected positive results on the entire bullpen, Monday night notwithstanding.
"It's not lip service -- Kenley is the best in the game," Roberts said. "We've got a lot of good arms. I love our guys, I really do. Now it's up to us to finish them. We can't dwell on the last 10 days. We've got to look forward."
The Dodgers had the bases loaded in three different innings and had runners in scoring position in six innings. Jose Martinez, the second batter of the game, homered off Wood, who was removed in the fifth inning when the first three batters he was facing for the third time reached base.
JT Chargois came on, walked one batter, then left with neck and shoulder discomfort that will likely send him to the disabled list. Baez walked in St. Louis' third run, then mowed down the next six batters. Maeda followed him by striking out four of the six batters he faced.
With a momentum shift, the Dodgers' offense got to starter Austin Gomber in the bottom of the fifth. A four-pitch walk by James Dozier, a Justin Turner double, an RBI single by Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger's sacrifice fly cut the deficit to 3-2.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Paul DeJong preserved a 3-2 lead with two out in the bottom of the fifth inning and the tying run on second base when he dived up the middle to glove Enrique Hernandez's sharp grounder and threw out Hernandez from his knees on a bounce, with first baseman Carpenter making the scoop.
Turner reached base three times and extended his hitting streak to 14 games, during which he's batting .464 with an OPS of 1.317. He's leading MLB this month with a .443 average.
HE SAID IT
"You almost have to slow things down, sounds kind of backwards, but when a guy is throwing that fast you slow everything else down and allow your body to be loose and relaxed. That's elite speed. He's something special. There's no getting used to that." -- Muncy, on hitting off Hicks
Hyun-Jin Ryu makes his second start off the disabled list on Tuesday night and the Dodgers hope it's like the first - six scoreless innings after missing three months with a strained groin. Ryu faces the Cardinals and Daniel Poncedeleon in the 7:10 p.m. start. Ryu has a 0.917 WHIP in three career games against the Cardinals.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.