Dodgers Break Open Tight Game in Ninth to Edge Cardinals
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen made a huge mistake with a one-run lead in the ninth inning to Lance Berkman and was relieved it didn't turn out to be as costly as it seemed to be at the time.
A.J. Ellis drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth, and Los Angeles pulled out a 6-5 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night in the opener of a series between the NL West and Central Division leaders. Adam Kennedy had four hits against his former team and James Loney drove in two runs.
Berkman, 3-for-31 with 10 strikeouts against Dodgers left-hander Ted Lilly, was not in St. Louis' starting lineup despite having led the NL with 22 road home runs last season. He came up with two outs in the ninth as a pinch-hitter for Shane Robinson and drove Jansen's 0-1 pitch into the pavilion seats in right-center.
Jansen (3-0), who struck out his first two batters trying to preserve a 5-4 lead for Lilly, ended up with the victory despite getting charged with his second blown save in five attempts.
"Kenley's fastball was really good -- probably as good as I've seen it all year," Ellis said of his batterymate. "He threw a good down-and-away fastball to Berkman, and I think everybody at this point knows where Berkman likes the ball. He likes the ball elevated and out over the plate, and we hit that spot. We didn't execute what we were trying to do and he made us pay for it."
Berkman's homer was his first in 41 at-bats this season -- ending the longest season-opening drought of his 14-year career.
"We weren't worried about Lance. I mean, Lance is going to be Lance," Cardinals starter Lance Lynn said. "Once he gets some at-bats and gets back in his groove. he's going to be just fine. Hopefully, tonight started him toward that. When Lance comes off the bench and ties it up like that, you think you're right back in it."
Pinch-hitter Elian Herrera drew a leadoff walk in the bottom half from Fernando Salas (0-2), Kennedy singled with one out and Loney was intentionally walked with runners at the corners. That set the stage for Ellis, who walked on four pitches to force home Herrera.
Lilly was charged with four runs -- all unearned -- and four hits through seven innings with six strikeouts and no walks. The 36-year-old left-hander lowered his ERA to 1.87. One of the hits off him was a two-run homer by Matt Holliday.
Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran, who took over the NL home run lead from injured Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp last Sunday, was back in the starting lineup for the first time in five games and went 2-for-4 after being sidelined with a sore right knee.
"I took four days rehabbing and working to try and make it better," Beltran said. "We were approaching this situation day by day, and every day I was making improvement -- but not to the level where I could play in games. Today, I went out there, did some sprints in the outfield and everything was 100 percent, so there was no reason for me to sit on the bench. Right now, I feel good. I'm just hoping to wake up tomorrow feeling good to and being in the lineup again."
Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly was ejected for the second time in six games during the top of the third inning while the Cardinals were rallying from a 3-0 deficit with four runs. But the Dodgers tied it in the bottom half with an RBI single by Kennedy.
Tyler Greene led off the Cardinals' third with a bunt single and advanced when catcher Ellis tried to surprise him with an attempted pickoff and threw the ball past Loney for an error. Robinson reached on a strikeout-wild pitch, and both runners moved up on Lynn's sacrifice bunt.
Rafael Furcal drove in the Cardinals' first run with a sacrifice fly, and Matt Carpenter checked his swing on a 1-2 pitch. Ellis appealed to third-base ump Chad Fairchild, who ruled no swing, and Mattingly was tossed by plate umpire and crew chief Tom Hallion while he was barking at Hallion from the dugout.
"I'm not going to say if it was a quick trigger or not, but Donnie was just making a point about the checked swings and Tom didn't appreciate what Donnie was saying. I guess he gave him a really short leash," Ellis said. "But Donnie's definitely protecting the players and he's out there fighting for us -- not that he wasn't doing that last year, but I think he's getting more comfortable.
"One thing we know is Donnie's going to be there every day and he's going to bring it. So there's not a man in this clubhouse who doesn't love playing for him."
Carpenter capitalized on the big break and singled home Robinson. Holliday then put St. Louis ahead 4-3 with his third in four games and ninth overall.