Middle relievers let Cardinals down in LA

Molina hit his 19th home run

Cardinals relievers allowed five runs in the sixth and seventh in their Friday loss in Los Angeles.

INSIDE PITCH

 

The Cardinals' middle relief, troublesome much of the season, failed in the sixth and seventh innings Friday night in Los Angeles as the Dodgers rallied for an 8-5 win that cut the Cardinals' wild-card lead over them to one game.

 

A hit batsman with two outs in the sixth by right-handed rookie Trevor Rosenthal (0-2) helped create a scoring inning as right-hander Edward Mujica then allowed a three-run, go-ahead homer by Los Angeles third baseman Luis Cruz.

 

Another rookie, left-hander Sam Freeman, issued a leadoff walk in the seventh and the Dodgers ultimately scored two runs on a double by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez as Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday missed a diving-catch attempt.

 

Home runs by catcher by Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Holliday gave southern California native Joe Kelly, another right-handed rookie, a 4-1 lead into the third inning. But Kelly issued his own costly walk, a two-out pass to left fielder Shane Victorino. Kelly continued to miss the strike zone, falling behind right fielder Andre Ethier 3-0 but Ethier eschewed a walk. He smashed a home run on the 3-0 pitch and the Dodgers were back in the game.

 

"I fell behind the best hitter in their lineup and it came back and bit me in the butt," said Kelly. "I gave him a cookie on 3-0 and he put a good swing on it."

 

Kelly said he could have gone longer, but manager Mike Matheny didn't like what he was seeing.

 

"He was fighting," said Matheny. "It was one of those days when we needed the bullpen to come in and pick him up in those middle innings."

 

Matheny said there were stretches when he thought Kelly "was really throwing the ball well. They he started elevating a little bit and started working outside the zone. Every time he got behind, bad things happened."

 

Matheny declined to use left-handed relievers Marc Rzepczynzki and Sam Freeman, a rookie, until later in the game, electing to let Rosenthal face left-handed-batting Ethier and Gonzalez in the sixth.

 

Rosenthal gave up a single to Ethier and retired Gonzalez before hitting shortstop Hanley Ramirez, forcing his exit for Mujica.

 

"Rosey has been throwing as well as anybody we have right now," said Matheny. "We felt very good about him coming in. Rosey was the guy we wanted there."

 

NOTES, QUOTES

INF/OF Matt Carpenter started at a third position in three days when he made his second big-league start at second base on Friday night. Carpenter, whose bat has been a spark for a drifting club, had started in right field and third base the previous two games, making an error in each one but actually playing well at third base. He homered in three at-bats on Friday before coming out of the game. The home run, off Los Angeles LHP Chris Capuano, was his fifth homer off lefthanders out of the six he has hit.

RHP Edward Mujica didn't allow a run in his first 18 outings for the Cardinals after coming from Miami. But he has given up runs in two of his last three outings, including a first-pitch, three-run homer off a sixth-inning slider by Dodgers third baseman Luis Cruz.

LHP Jaime Garcia, who has a 6.17 earned run average on the road, will start Saturday's game at Los Angeles. Garcia lasted only three innings, giving up four runs, at San Diego on Monday. RHP Shelby Miller, a rookie, probably will be in reserve if Garcia stumbles.

CF Jon Jay, who rarely gets a day off, may be wearing down. He is in a 0-for-9 stretch and hasn't hit a ball out of the infield in that time.

C Yadier Molina continued to build his Most Valuable Player credentials. Molina hit his 19th homer and added a single as he raised his average to .321 Friday. He also picked Los Angeles 2B Nick Punto off first base in the sixth.

RHP Joe Kelly, who gave up three runs in five innings before being pulled, had several hundred fans from nearby Corona, Calif., and surrounding communities on hand to see him make his first start at Dodger Stadium. Kelly, who pitched collegiately at Cal-Riverside, said he wasn't overwhelmed by the moment, though. "I felt calm, relaxed, It was just one of those games. Everyone has them."

By the Numbers:

1-7 - Cardinals' record in southern California (San Diego and Los Angeles) this season, with two games remaining.

Quote to Note:

"It's hurt us and it continued to do so today."

- Manager Mike Matheny, discussing the Cardinals' middle relief.

MEDICAL WATCH

RHP Jake Westbrook (strained right oblique) will miss a start or two but apparently will be able to pitch again this season.

1B Lance Berkman (sore right knee) was scheduled to undergo additional surgery Sept. 14 and is out for the season. His career might be over as well.

RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder surgery) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 10. He threw for the first time since March on June 13 and then threw another 40 pitches on June 15. He threw to hitters for the first time June 22 but then had a setback June 25 when he felt renewed weakness in the shoulder. He said it felt better the next day, and he had an extensive throwing session off flat ground June 27. On June 28, he was told he has thoracic outlet syndrome, which can cause, among its effects, weakness in one's shoulder. A July 2 bullpen session was canceled. He underwent what was believed to be season-ending surgery July 19 to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome. He threw a normal bullpen session Sept. 7 and faced hitters in a simulated game Sept. 10 in San Diego.

SS Rafael Furcal (torn ligament in right elbow) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 31 and is out for the season. He might need Tommy John surgery, but he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on Sept. 4 in the hopes of avoiding having to go under the knife.

RHP Kyle McClellan (torn labrum in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list May 18 due to a strained right elbow, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 30. He threw on flat ground for the first time July 3, but he subsequently felt shoulder pain. He had season-ending shoulder surgery July 10.

Link to boxscore: Los Angeles 8, St. Louis 5

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