Defense comes to Greinke's aid to extend road streak
Righty pitches into seventh as LA wins 15th straight away from home
ST. LOUIS -- The Dodgers' historic road winning streak reached another milestone Monday. With a 3-2 win against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium, the Dodgers extended their stretch of wins away from Los Angeles to 15, tying the 1939 Red Sox, '51 White Sox, '53 Yankees and '57 Redlegs (Reds) for the third-longest road win streak in Major League history.
The last time a team won 15 in a row on the road was in 1984, when the Tigers went on to tie the '16 Giants at 17 for the record.
"It was a great crowd tonight, an electric atmosphere," catcher A.J. Ellis said of the 42,464 at Busch Stadium. "I think we kind of thrive on that us-against-the-stadium-type mentality, where we really come together as a ballclub. It really brings out the best in ourselves."
Since June 21, when the Dodgers were a season-worst 12 games under .500, Los Angeles has posted the best record in baseball at 32-7.
"That's something that I think the guys are proud of, I think they should be" manager Don Mattingly said of the road win streak. "It shows that we're getting ready to play and not taking teams for granted."
Starter Zack Greinke put the brakes on a Cardinals offense that erupted for 44 runs in its past four games, earning his 100th career victory. He limited St. Louis to two runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.
"They hit some balls hard. If the wind's not blowing in, they may be home runs in a different game," Greinke said. "Just how things are going, playing good and getting some breaks."
The Cardinals threatened in the fourth, fifth and sixth, but Greinke pitched out of the jams against a club that entered the game batting an MLB-best .339 with runners in scoring position. St. Louis was 1-for-9 in those situations Monday.
"Today on the mound, [Greinke] was just constantly pounding the zone, mixing all his pitches," Ellis said. "That's a great hitting team over there, who's given him trouble in the past. What he did against that team today, espeically with runners in scoring position -- because we know the historic pace they're on -- was the difference in the game."
Greinke was aided by some impressive defensive support. Shortstop Nick Punto had a hand in turning two momentum-shifting double plays, and the Dodgers spoiled all the Cardinals comeback attempts, stranding eight St. Louis runners on base.
In the fifth, with the tying runner on first, David Freese hit a double to right field, which Yasiel Puig barehanded off the wall. He immediately turned and rocketed it to Punto, who then beat Allen Craig home with a toss to catcher A.J. Ellis.
"[Ellis] made it sound like it was an easy play or whatever, but I've seen that play messed up at least 100 times," Greinke said. "It was just a perfect relay and he did a good job tagging. Good all the way around. I thought it was a good decision to send [the runner], just everything had to be right and it was."
"I saw the ball coming out of [Puig's] hand and looked where Allen was and thought he had a real good shot of being safe there," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "It was a great relay, a great tag. That definitely took some momentum out."
The Cardinals struck first when Matt Carpenter knocked a leadoff double into right field and advanced to third on a fielding error as Puig couldn't come up with the ball. Carpenter beat Punto's toss home when Carlos Beltran hit into a fielder's choice the next at-bat, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead that held until the Dodgers put up two in the fourth.
Adam Wainwright walked Adrian Gonzalez to open the frame and then Puig, returning to the lineup after suffering a contusion on his left thumb Saturday, doubled to center. Andre Ethier drove Gonzalez home with a single, and Puig scored when Ellis grounded into a forceout at second.
Greinke padded the lead in the seventh with an RBI single, scoring Punto. The right-hander is now batting .600 in his last seven starts with two doubles, a walk and an RBI. The Cardinals tacked on one more the following frame, but relievers Ronald Belisario and Paco Rodriguez held the Redbirds at bay.
Wainwright exited the game after seven innings, charged with seven hits and three earned runs. The Cardinals ace struck out five batters and walked two, falling short in his third attempt to reach a National League-best 14 wins.
"That's another tough loss. They're playing great ball, obviously," Wainwright said. "They've won 15 straight times on the road. I knew that going in and wanted to end that streak. They were opportunistic tonight and did some good things when they needed to."