ST. LOUIS -- With Walker Buehler on the mound Friday night, the Dodgers didn't have to rely on their bats.
Buehler, a rookie right-hander, held the Cardinals to two hits in eight innings as the Dodgers won, 3-0, at Busch Stadium to pull into a tie with the Cardinals for the second National League Wild Card spot and climb to a half-game behind first-place Colorado in the NL West.
Buehler (7-5) walked two, matched a personal-high with nine strikeouts and allowed just two baserunners to advance as far as second. He didn't allow his first hit until the fifth when Paul DeJong singled with one out.
In two starts against the Cardinals, Buehler has thrown 15 scoreless innings and has surrendered five hits, with four walks and 18 strikeouts.
"Sometimes there's just teams you match up well against," Buehler said. "It's hard to explain. That's baseball. There's teams that absolutely kill guys and there's teams that don't throw that good and the line looks good. It's the way the game works. Tonight, that worked out.
"It's a big game. We're trying to make the freakin' playoffs. That's what baseball in September is about. This stuff is fun, and that's what this game is about."
Buehler, who threw a career-high 105 pitches, never had worked more than seven innings in a game (five times). He overpowered the Cardinals with an upper-90s fastball that he complemented with a slider, curveball and occasional changeup.
"This was probably the best pitching performance of the year," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Not only Walker, just across the board against a very good club in St. Louis on the road, and obviously, what's at stake right now each game. He wanted this moment. … Just domination. He did what he wanted to do tonight.
"For us to get him through the eighth inning is only going to do great things for his confidence going forward. But it was really fun to see him rise to the occasion."
Buehler isn't getting carried away with the Dodgers' position. Not yet, at least.
"It's one game at a time," he said. "If they beat us [Saturday], we're down one again. We've got to keep going and try to win all four."
Offensively, the Dodgers had piled up 17 runs in their last two games -- victories over Cincinnati and the Cardinals. But they mustered just one run against Cardinals rookie Jack Flaherty (8-7), who permitted four hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.
Cody Bellinger raced home from third on Yadier Molina's passed ball in the seventh. Puig, who was on second, also tried to score when Molina's throw to Dakota Hudson covering the plate rolled in front of the mound. First baseman Matt Adams retrieved the ball and threw to Hudson at the plate, and Puig was easily retired.
Puig made amends when he connected again in the ninth, a bases-empty homer to left against left-hander Tyler Webb. The drive came on a 2-2 pitch and was measured at 417 feet. It was Puig's sixth multi-homer game of his career. Two have come this season.
"I was trying to find something up in the zone and was trying try to hit a line drive," Puig said. "A home run happened."
Flaherty was matching up against Buehler for the second time this season; neither pitcher had a decision in the Cardinals' 3-1 win in 10 innings Aug. 22 in Los Angeles.
Kenley Jansen, who allowed two runs Thursday, pitched the ninth for his 35th save. It was just the second time this season Jansen had worked in three consecutive games.
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Roberts stuck with Buehler with two on and two out in the eighth inning. Buehler responded by striking out Carpenter to protect what at that juncture was a 2-0 lead.
"Looking back, if I'm a reporter, you ask the question," Buehler said of whether he was surprised he remained in the game. "But it's not something I think about. That's a guy I've had some success against and I would have been angry if I had come out there."
Roberts said Buehler earned the chance.
"He was still getting out front," Roberts said. "Was he tired? Absolutely. But I just felt the ball was still coming out the right way. And I think he earned that opportunity."
Jansen became the only pitcher in the Major Leagues with 35 or more saves in five consecutive seasons.
It's a quick turnaround for the Dodgers and Cardinals as they play the third game of this important series Saturday at 10:05 a.m. PT at Busch Stadium. Los Angeles will send left-hander Rich Hill (8-5, 3.88 ERA) to the mound against Cardinals right-hander John Gant (7-5, 3.16 ERA). Hill is 2-1 with a 4.66 ERA in seven career games, six of them starts, against St. Louis. Hill, who has limited hitters to a .233 average, is seeking his third consecutive victory.