LA pulls off madcap comeback to erase 6-run deficit

Offense erupts in late innings to pick up Gonsolin after uncharacteristic rough start

July 14th, 2022

ST. LOUIS -- Until deep into the late innings, Wednesday night’s game appeared to be following Tuesday’s script. The Dodgers allowed the Cardinals to climb out to a big lead through two-out rallies, struggled to cash in themselves and upped the degree of difficulty with a madcap attempt at a late-inning comeback.

Wednesday, however, delivered a Hollywood-ready sequel -- script flipped, story changed.

Despite Tony Gonsolin’s toughest start in a superlative first half, Los Angeles came storming back from a 6-0, sixth-inning deficit to defeat the Cardinals, 7-6, and tie the first series of the season between the clubs.

Max Muncy’s ninth-inning sacrifice fly tied the game against Giovanny Gallegos, followed by Hanser Alberto stroking a single to left field to deliver birthday boy Cody Bellinger as the winning run.

“This is pretty high up there,” as a birthday baseball memory, offered Bellinger, who turned 27.

Multiple runs scored in the seventh (two), eighth (three) and ninth (two) innings allowed the Dodgers to chase down the opposition, paying off their early attempts to grind down Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright.

Despite the surging offense, the comeback was nearly derailed in the ninth after Austin Barnes, pinch-running for Justin Turner, took a tumble rounding third base while trying to score on Bellinger’s single.

Barnes scrambled back to third, and the Cardinals’ attempt to throw behind him gave Bellinger the chance to move up to second and into scoring position. That allowed Alberto, three batters later, to drive him in.

“I had a feeling, after it was 6-5, yo, we’re gonna win,” said jubilant reliever Phil Bickford at his locker after the game, before emphatically pointing out that his teammates shared in that feeling.

“We don’t feel like we’re ever out of it, no matter what the score is,” Muncy said. “We know who we are, we know what we’ve been doing lately. You’ve just got to find a way to stay in the game.”

What the Dodgers have been doing lately – and throughout the season – is refusing to surrender. Tonight marked their 26th comeback win of the season, tied with the Yankees for the most in the Majors.

“It’s really good to see 26 guys playing to win a baseball game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Not worried about stats. The only stat they’re worried about is winning.”

Gonsolin navigated gingerly through five innings, allowing five runs, seven hits and a walk. He struck out six, but was unable to find his way out of difficult innings. Just as Mitch White struggled on Tuesday to avoid two-out rallies, so too did Gonsolin – all five runs he allowed came with two outs.

He hadn’t allowed more than two earned runs of any kind in any of his 16 prior starts. The comeback gave him a no-decision, preserving his perfect record of 11-0. His ERA rose to 2.02, good for second in the National League, behind Miami's Sandy Alcantara.

“Pretty excited to come back, and glad it happened today after my bad outing,” said the Dodgers’ self-critical starter.

Freddie Freeman extended his hot streak, following consecutive four-hit games with three hits, a hit-by-pitch, a walk, and a run scored. He’s now reached base safely at least four times in three consecutive games.

Muncy, moved down to the seventh spot in the batting order for the first time this season, drew four walks – three against Wainwright and one against Génesis Cabrera – to mark his season high. His first three walks saw him, in order, stranded on first, third and second base. His fourth, finally, saw him safely cross home plate.

It was Muncy’s fifth career game of at least four free passes. He’s the only player in the Major Leagues this season to record at least five plate appearances and zero at-bats in a single game, which he said was “weird.”

“I mean, it’s a good stat line,” Muncy joked. “0-for-0 with an RBI, played a full game.”

“I think that the last week, the swings have been better,” Roberts said of Muncy before Wednesday’s first pitch. “He’s getting off better swings, so I know we’re trending in the right direction.”

Where the Cardinals were able to cash in with two outs, the Dodgers were only able to push Wainwright to the point of bending without breaking. On three separate occasions, the venerable righty allowed two Dodger baserunners to reach before wiggling out without allowing a run. By pushing Wainwright’s pitch count to 114 in just 5 1/3 innings, though, they accessed an advantage against a stretched Cardinals bullpen.

When they finally broke through in the seventh, it was Smith who rocked a home run to center field against righty Drew VerHagen, greeting him rudely in his return from the injured list.

Alex Vesia allowed singles to Albert Pujols and Lars Nootbaar in the sixth, surrendering a run in relief of Gonsolin that would mark the final margin. Caleb Ferguson contributed a perfect seventh, and Craig Kimbrel a perfect eighth to earn the win. Evan Phillips breezed through the ninth for his first save of the season.