Dodgers get back in series
LOS ANGELES—Led by a pair of precocious rookies, the L.A. Dodgers got themselves right back into the NL championship series.
Hyun-Jin Ryu outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven innings of three-hit ball, and Yasiel Puig celebrated twice on his RBI triple that helped L.A. beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 last night in Game 3.
And an ailing Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring hit as L.A. handed Wainwright his first post-season loss and trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“The playoffs are one-day momentum swings,” noted Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly.
“Right now I feel like we’ve kind of grabbed it.”
Puig’s youthful exuberance, which energized the Dodgers as they surged from last place to first during a torrid mid-season stretch, was on full display in the fourth inning.
The 22-year-old Cuban defector was so excited when he connected that he raised his arms immediately and stood in the batter’s box to watch the flight of the ball toward right-field—clearly thinking it was going out of the park.
Once he realized it wasn’t, Puig started charging. He roared into third base and clapped his hands before raising them again as the sell-out crowd of 53,940 cheered.
Puig had reason to exult, having struck out seven times in the series before getting his first hit.
“He brings unbelievable energy every day,” Ramirez said. “When we spoke to him, he told me, ‘I got it today,’ and he did.
“He’s a great player.”
Game 4 goes today at Dodger Stadium, with Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start against St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn.
But there was speculation the Dodgers might switch to Zack Greinke, especially after they passed over Nolasco with short notice in the previous round.
“Everybody’s trying to do the best they can to get to the World Series,” Puig said through a translator.
L.A. got Ramirez and centre-fielder Andre Ethier back in the lineup after both proved in batting practice they were healthy enough to play.
Ramirez wore a lightweight flak jacket to protect his broken left rib—having been hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in Game 1—while Ethier has been bothered by shin splints.
“What can I say? It couldn’t be better,” Ramirez said. “Really happy we got the first win.
“Just come back tomorrow [Tuesday] and even up the series.”
Ramirez singled his first time up off Wainwright, then helped the Dodgers extend their lead to 3-0 in the eighth.
Ramirez hit a soft single off Seth Maness over the head of second baseman Kolten Wong to score Carl Crawford.
The speedy Crawford—on second base after a one-out single—rounded third and never stopped running when the throw from the outfield went to second base.
On a close play at the plate, Crawford barely beat the tag by catcher Yadier Molina.
“We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t,” said Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny.
“We’re a better club than this.”
During the rally, retired Dodgers’ manager Tom Lasorda, whose 1988 team won the franchise’s last World Series title, stood up and waved his white rally towel to raucous applause.
“We just knew we had to scratch away and get a win,” said Dodgers’ catcher A.J. Ellis.
“We needed a great starting pitching performance from Hyun-Jin, and we got that.
“You knew it was going to be tough sledding against a guy like Adam,” Ellis added. “He’s so good, especially on the big stage, so we were fortunate we scratched a couple of runs across.”
Wainwright entered 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and four saves in 15 career post-season games, including six starts.
He pitched St. Louis past Pittsburgh in the division series—going the distance in a decisive Game 5 last Wednesday.