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Dodger that: Gonzalez ignites slugfest

Los Angeles racks up its first four long balls of NLCS in one contest

LOS ANGELES -- Before Monday's Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers honored Dusty Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith, who comprised the quartet that slugged at least 30 homers apiece in 1977.

It took the current Dodgers a couple of days, but they ultimately complemented that ceremony with their own version of the '77 act.

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Rousing themselves from a series-long slump, the Dodgers belted four homers in their 6-4 triumph over the Cardinals in Wednesday's Game 5 of the NLCS. The outburst of power enabled Los Angeles to trim its series deficit to 3-2 and force a sixth game Friday night in St. Louis.

Adrian Gonzalez delivered a pair of homers -- a two-out drive in the third inning that broke a 2-2 tie and an eighth-inning clout that ended Los Angeles' scoring. Carl Crawford hit his fourth homer of this postseason with one out in the fifth inning and A.J. Ellis added another one-out homer in the seventh.

Dodgers going deep
Most homers by the Dodgers in a postseason game
Opponent Date Game HR
Cardinals 10/15/2013 NLCS 5 4
Phillies 10/4/1978 NLCS 1 4
Yankees 10/12/1977 WS 2 4
Braves 10/7/2013 NLDS 4 3
Phillies 10/21/2009 NLCS 5 3
Cubs 10/1/2008 NLDS 1 3
Cardinals 10/7/2004 NLDS 2 3
Yankees 10/10/1978 WS 1 3
White Sox 10/8/1959 WS 6 3
White Sox 10/2/1959 WS 2 3
Yankees 10/2/1955 WS 5 3
Yankees 10/1/1955 WS 4 3
Yankees 9/30/1953 WS 1 3
Yankees 10/1/1952 WS 1 3
Yankees 10/7/1949 WS 3 3

Their combined efforts enabled the Dodgers to equal a club record for most homers in a postseason game. They also hit four in Game 2 of the 1977 World Series against the Yankees and in Game 4 of the '78 NLCS against the Phillies. Los Angeles also fell one shy of the NLCS record established by the Cubs in Game 1 against the Padres in 1984.

Interestingly, Los Angeles ranked 10th in the NL with 138 homers during the regular season.

In one afternoon, the Dodgers nearly compensated for their offensive futility during the series' first four games. They entered Wednesday having scored seven runs against St. Louis while batting .223. Their production, or lack of it, included zero homers. Having lost twice by one run and once by two runs, they knew that just a few more well-timed hits would have dramatically improved their fortunes.

"It's no secret we've really let our pitching down the entire series," Ellis said. "Our [pitchers] have thrown the ball amazing the entire time, and offensively we have not held up our end of the bargain. It felt great today to be a part of it. We did so well against Atlanta in the last series by using the long ball and hitting some home runs, and it was great today to see some guys hit some balls out of the ballpark and give us some insurance runs late in the game."

Gonzalez recorded the 10th multiple-homer postseason game in club history and became the eighth Dodger to achieve that feat. Garvey and Duke Snider each had a pair.

Long-distance connection
Most homers in an NLCS game
Team Opp. Date Game HR
Cubs Padres 10/2/1984 1 5
Dodgers Cardinals 10/15/2013 5 4
Phillies Dodgers 10/21/2009 5 4
Mets Cardinals 10/15/2006 4 4
Cardinals Astros 10/14/2004 2 4
Astros Cardinals 10/13/2004 1 4
Cubs Marlins 10/8/2003 2 4
Marlins Cubs 10/7/2003 1 4
Braves Phillies 10/7/1993 2 4
Dodgers Phillies 10/4/1978 1 4
Pirates Giants 10/3/1971 2 4

The first baseman entered the game batting a meek .231 (3-for-13) in the series but was 4-for-7 lifetime against Cardinals starter Joe Kelly. From the outset, Gonzalez felt comfortable. He singled to right field in his first at-bat. Then came his initial long ball.

"There are just certain matchups that you can't explain it," he said. "You just see the ball well out of his hand. It definitely gives you confidence going into the game just knowing that you're looking for your pitch."

Gonzalez's first home run traveled an estimated 428 feet. Crawford outdid him with a 447-foot drive to right off Kelly. Crawford is one shy of Davey Lopes' 1978 franchise record for most homers in a postseason.

"It just goes to show how baseball is. One day you can be on and one day you can be off," Crawford said. "The pitching has been dominating this series, and nobody's been hitting home runs. Today we just seemed to find the stroke for the home run. I don't really know why that is, but we'll take it."

Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina inadvertently had the best seat in the house to observe the Dodgers' handiwork.

"We didn't make pitches," Molina said, "and with the offense they have, they are so great at taking advantage of mistakes."

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez