The Dodgers once again were without the services of Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp. And once again, it didn't matter.
Behind seven strong innings from Hyun-Jin Ryu and a three-run shot by A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers won again in St. Louis, 5-1. That's three of four in this big road series, and the Dodgers extended their lead in the NL West to 5 1/2 games.
The Cardinals' rotation was thrown out of whack two pitches into Wednesday night's game when Carl Crawford lined one off of Shelby Miller's elbow. That moved Jake Westbrook up a day and caused the Cards to call up Carlos Martinez to start this one.
Martinez gave up a couple of hits in each of the first two innings, but escaped unharmed. In the third, the Dodgers were first on the board. Crawford and Mark Ellis led off with singles to put runners on the corners. A sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez later, it was 1-0.
Ryu struck out the side in the third, but the Cardinals tied it in the fourth on a freak play. Matt Holliday hit a two-out single, followed by single from David Freese that was bobbled by Andre Ethier in center, moving Holliday up to third. Ethier's throw back into the infield sailed over Mark Ellis's head, off the second base bag, and away from everyone, easily allowing Holliday to score.
In the fifth, the Dodgers made another one of those big plays. With one out, Gonzalez took a walk, and Yasiel Puig followed with a single. A fielder's choice by Ethier forced Puig at second and set up runners on the corners with two outs.
The wins have certainly been coming, but if there's one thing the Dodgers still don't do much is hit home runs. Well, A.J. Ellis picked the perfect spot to deliver on one, as his three-run shot to left center put the Dodgers ahead at 4-1.
An insurance run was added in the eighth, not that the Dodgers needed it with the way they pitched on this night. A.J singled with one out, and then with two outs, Dee Gordon took a walk. An RBI single up the middle by Jerry Hairston closed the scoring at 5-1.
Kenley Jansen hadn't pitched since Sunday, so he got some work in with a scoreless ninth, striking out a pair.
Ryu once again continues to dazzle on the mound, as he has to be one of the front runners for NL Rookie of the Year along with Puig. He lasted seven innings for five hits, one run (unearned), no walks, and seven strikeouts. He got his ERA down to 2.99. He's now sixth in the NL with 11 wins, second in winning % at .786, and also owns the highest winning % for a rookie in Dodgers' history. Needless to say, he's not looking anything like a rookie. Not bad for a guy who's only expected to be the third or fourth starter in the rotation.
While it's all bright and sunny on the Dodgers' side, if you're on the Cardinals, you can't help but be very disappointed with this series. Not only are they trying to fend off a Pirates team that seems to only be getting better, but you dropped three of four to a team without Ramirez and Kemp. The irony in all of this is that they beat Clayton Kershaw for their only win. Go figure. If Miller doesn't get hit be a liner, who knows what would've happened. But he did, and they fell apart after that.
Next up is a possible World Series preview when the Rays come to Dodger Stadium for three. That's going to be great to watch. Chris Capuano gets the task of trying to beat David Price on Friday. Possibly Ramirez will be back? We will see.