ST. LOUIS -- Seven Dodgers tallied RBIs and the bullpen came through with five innings of one-run ball as Los Angeles topped the Cardinals, 9-4, at Busch Stadium on Tuesday night, moving into first place in the National League West with the Rockies falling to the Mariners.
"Are we really [in first]?" Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, when asked about the division race. "We're winning baseball games right now, but I think the intent right now is to focus on the day and not worry about the standings. ... We've done a pretty good job of that."
The Dodgers scored in nearly every which way, first getting on the board on a sacrifice fly to left in the third before Chase Utley hit a ground-rule double to cut the St. Louis lead to 3-2. The Dodgers added two more runs that inning on a single and an ensuing error before adding an additional three in the fifth -- two on walks with the bases loaded and another when John Forsythe beat out a potential inning-ending double-play ball at first. The final runs of the game came on a Kiké Hernandez sacrifice fly and Austin Barnes' RBI double in the ninth.
"I think we all feel like we have a good offense. Just put together some rallies, scored some runs," said Utley, who has been swinging a hot bat. "We were able to capitalize on a few of [Michael Wacha's] mistakes."
Cardinals pitchers struggled with their command early and often. Wacha got the start, but lasted only three innings after a 36-pitch third. Tyler Lyons worked his way through the fourth, but was pulled after a sequence in which he gave up a single, hit-by-pitch and two walks in the fifth. The loss dropped the Cardinals to 24-25. They are 3-10 in their last 13 games.
"We score three in the first, we anticipate that's a game we're going to add onto and win," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "I put a lot of weight on adding that next one on, who knows what they would have done if we were able to put someone on across the board there in the second and keep momentum going? ... It's one of the better bullpens in the game right now, you get deep and they've got a lead, we've got work to do."
Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda only lasted four innings before he was replaced by pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez, but the bullpen picked him up. The 'pen lost a 24 2/3-inning scoreless streak on a Yadier Molina solo shot in the eighth inning but didn't allow any more runs, as the Dodgers improved to 33-20 and won their sixth straight overall.
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"There was a spot there for Kenta to go back out there for the fifth inning but," Roberts said, "we had to take a chance at adding on."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
One after the other: The Dodgers found themselves in a hole early, in part because of a couple of miscues. With two on and nobody out in the first, Matt Carpenter hit a single to center and Dodgers center fielder Chris Taylor tried to make a play at second, seeing Tommy Pham overrun the bag. Taylor's throw sailed past the base as the runners advanced. William Fowler scored on the play after another error from Maeda, who wasn't in good enough position to back up the throw initially and made an errant toss as Fowler broke for home.
"It was ugly there early," Roberts said. "We kicked the ball around uncharacteristically."
Maeda committed another error in the second, misfiring to first base after fielding a bunt by Wacha. The play gifted the Cardinals runners on the corners with nobody out, but the Dodgers would escape the inning unscathed.
"Overall it was just not a good outing," Maeda said through an interpreter. "I just want to move on and work on what I have to work on."
Returning the favor: The Dodgers would strike back in the third, taking the lead in a similar way to how they had fallen behind. With two out and two runs already in, Hernandez hit a ground ball up the middle. Ranging far to his right to field the grounder, second baseman Paul DeJong tried to fire the ball to first to complete what would've been a difficult play, but the throw flew past Carpenter and the Dodgers tallied an additional run.
The Dodgers' offense continued to strike from that point on. Forsythe and Utley combined to reach nine times, with nine total Dodgers reaching safely.
"We're finding ways to get on base and win 90 feet when we need to," Roberts said. "Guys were having good at-bats."
"It was an awful pace, I don't know what to attribute it to. ... You could sense that there was just a different vibe. I think it's a shame we come out and score three like we did, top of our lineup doing what we do. It unfortunately was having a chance to put an exclamation point, opportunity first-and-third in the second [inning], I think that's a momentum shifter." -- Matheny, on the game clocked at 3:55
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Molina's home run ended the Dodgers bullpen's scoreless streak. It so happens, a homer by the catcher on May 24 was the last one hit off of the bullpen before the streak began. The hit was also Molina's 750th hit at Busch Stadium III, where he is the all-time leader.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
After allowing three to score before recording an out, the Dodgers appeared to finally record the first two outs of the inning on a ball hit right back to the pitcher. However, after a Cardinals challenge and quick review, the 1-4-3 double play was overturned, with Aledmys Diaz beating out the throw to first.
The Dodgers also challenged a call in the fifth inning after Forsythe hit into a fielder's choice -- and nearly a double play to end the inning. They challenged the ruling that Diaz was on the bag to record the out at second, but the call stood after a review.
Dodgers: In Game 3 of the four-game set at Busch Stadium, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-5, 4.28 ERA) will return to the rotation and fill in for the injured Alex Wood on Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. PT. Ryu's last outing came out of the bullpen against the Cardinals on Thursday, as he recorded a rare four-inning save in a 7-3 win.
Cardinals: Right-hander Carlos Martinez (3-4, 3.32 ERA) will get the ball Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. CT. Martinez has posted six straight quality starts, and in his last start at home on May 20, he allowed two hits and no runs against the Giants in nine innings, though the Cardinals lost the game in 13 innings.
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