Culver City Observer -

Dodgers Win Series From The Cardinals

 

The Cardinals flew into Dodger Stadium for a three-game series this past weekend and were only able to salvage one win against their National League rivals.

When Cardinals center-fielder Randal Grichuk robbed Howie Kendrick of a homer by leaping up and snatching the ball as it was going over the center-field wall in the first inning of the first game of the series, things seemed to be looking good for the Cardinals.

But then, things went south for the Redbirds as they lost the first two games to the Dodgers, but left Los Angeles on a high note as they won the third game on Sunday with starting pitcher Mike Leake getting the win, Trevor Rosenthal the save, and Dodger reliever J.P. Howell taking the loss.

The Dodgers had their winning streak snapped at three with the 5-2 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday, which was nationally-broadcast on ESPN as the game-of-the-week.

Shortstop Corey Seager provided the Dodgers' only runs of the night with solo home runs in the third and eighth inning in the first multi-home run game of his career. He has hit safely in his last six games.

"Corey is learning the league. I think that he's been a little more patient and just getting good pitches to hit," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

"It's really good to see, and if we get everybody else around him going, we'll be fine."

Bright spots for the Cardinals were third baseman Matt Carpenter and catcher Yadier Molina.

Carpenter reached base three times, drawing two walks and hitting his eighth homer of the year with a third-inning solo blast, his fourth of the Cardinals' six-game road trip.

Molina cracked a go-ahead, pinch-hit, two-run double down the left-field line in the seventh inning and came around to score an additional insurance run. It was Molina's first pinch-hit appearance of the season and his first-career extra-base hit as a pinch-hitter.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny strategically pinch-hit Molina in the seventh because he knew Molina was familiar with Dodger reliever Joe Blanton.

After the game, Molina spoke about his role as a pinch-hitter. "I start getting ready to pinch-hit in the fifth inning," he said.

Usually their starting catcher, Molina has to still be ready to contribute on the days he is assigned a bench role.

Rosenthal picked up his seventh save in eight opportunities, walking one, striking out one and forcing a game-ending double play in a scoreless ninth. He has gone 8-for-8 in save opportunities in his career against the Dodgers.

Former Dodger hurler Jonathan Broxton, now a Redbird, pitched a scoreless seventh inning in relief for Leake.

After the game, Broxton waxed sentimental about how satisfying it is playing a part in two teams that are rich in history.

"I like being with a team (Cardinals) that have won 11 World Series championships," he said.

Coincidentally, Broxton made his big league debut as a Dodger on July 29, 2005 against the Cardinals, pitching one inning in relief, allowing one run, and striking out two. His first strikeout victim was Albert Pujols, now playing for the Angels.

Another former Dodger, Jeremy Hazelbaker, hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer for the Cardinals on Saturday. The homer, Hazelbaker's team-leading seventh of the season, came exactly one year after he signed a Minor League deal with the Cardinals to end a period of limbo in which he wondered if he'd get another chance elsewhere.

He had become a free agent two weeks earlier after being unexpectedly released from the Dodgers' Double-A roster. He has adapted to a part-time playing role with the Cardinals so well that he has emerged as one of the league's best pinch-hitters through the season's first six weeks.

Hazelbaker not only leads the Majors with three pinch-hit home runs but he has already tied the franchise record for pinch-hit blasts.

"It's been unbelievable," Matheny said of Hazelbaker's impact off the bench. "What he's been able to do is kind of off the charts. I'm really impressed."

At the same time, Matheny is concerned about the Cardinals' defensive errors. They entered the game on Sunday having committed a Major League-most 34 errors, including five in the first two games of the series against the Dodgers.

To try and right the ship Matheny decided to forgo batting practice on Sunday and instead spent 40 minutes on infield practice. It seems that the investment in that practice paid dividends since only one fielding error was committed by the Cardinals, by Carpenter in the second inning.

The Dodgers moved on to face the Angels in the Freeway Series, two games at Dodger Stadium and the next two at The Big A in Anaheim. The Cardinals then fly back to St. Louis to face the Rockies.

 

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