After having 36 games over a span on 37 days, the first place St. Louis Cardinals finally got an off day on Thursday. But on Friday night, it was right back to business, as, coming off sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games, they started a three game series against another National League West opponent…the Los Angeles Dodgers, whom the Cardinals have a storied rivalry with.
And St. Louis continued their winning streak, defeating the Dodgers 3-0 on Friday night.
The pitching match-up featured John Lackey (2-3, 3.18) for the Cardinals and Mike Bolsinger (3-0, 0.71) for the Dodgers.
Lackey began the top of the first with a strikeout of Joc Pederson and also got out Jimmy Rollins. With two outs, Howie Kendrick hit a single to right field, bringing up first baseman Adrian Gonzalez who lined out right to Matt Carpenter to end the top half of the first.
Kolten Wong led off the bottom of the first with a double to right field. Carpenter followed with a single, putting runners on the corner with no one out, and up stepped Jhonny Peralta, who walked to load the bases for Randal Grichuk. While he hit into a double play, the Cardinals did add a run, making it 1-0, which had ended the scoreless inning streak of Bolsinger. Mark Reynolds grounded out afterwards to end the inning.
Both pitchers threw scoreless innings until the bottom of the third, when the Cardinals increased their lead. After Peralta doubled to right field, Grichuk doubled to left field over the head of Alex Guerrero, scoring Peralta and giving St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile, Lackey kept dealing on the mound, entering the sixth inning with six strikeouts, no runs allowed, and only allowing two hits. In the top of the sixth inning, he struck out Pederson for his seventh of the game, and though veteran Jimmy Rollins singled to right, Kendrick grounded into an inning-ending double play, as the Cardinals still had a 2-0 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Reynolds led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, his first hit of the evening, as Molina stepped up to the plate with one on and no out. Molina grounded out, but Reynolds advanced to second, as Heyward then walked. Reynolds was caught stealing third, and a subsequent strikeout by Bourjos ended the inning.
Lackey headed back out to the mound as the seventh inning was underway. Gonzalez was up first, and led off with a single hit sharply to center field. Justin Turner’s single afterwards led to Seth Maness getting warmed up in the Cardinals’ bullpen. With two on and no outs, Lackey strikes out Ethier, his eighth of the night, and a subsequent argument led to Ethier getting ejected from the game. Guerrero then stepped up to bat, and popped out to third base.
With two on and two outs, A.J. Ellis strikes out (Lackey’s ninth strikeouts), as the Cardinals right hander walked to the dugout with a standing ovation from the Busch Stadium crowd of over 40,000.
Ed Easley made his Major League Baseball debut with J.P Howell on the mound in relief for Bolsinger. Easley (who was pinch-hitting for Lackey) reached base on an error, after a bobbled ball by Turner.
The final line for Lackey on the night: 7.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.
Meanwhile, Wong grounded to shortstop, as Easley ended up out at second, though Wong reached base. Wong later stole second, in what was a close play, with Rollins nearly tagging him out when his hand slid off the base. With one out and a runner on second, Carpenter walked, and the Dodgers brought in Juan Nicasio to pitch and Chris Heisey to play left field in a double switch move.
Peralta followed that with a double, scoring Wong and advancing Carpenter to third. An intentional walk to Grichuk loaded the bases with one out with Reynolds up to the plate with a chance to break the game wide open. He would strike out, bringing up Molina, still looking for his first home run for the season. Molina, however, popped out, stranding the bases loaded.
Despite that, St. Louis took a 3-0 lead heading into the eighth inning, with Kevin Siegrist on the mound. He started by striking out Heisey, getting Pederson to pop out, but Rollins prevented the 1-2-3 inning by doubling to left field. But a strikeout of Kendrick kept the shutout going. In the bottom of the eighth, Jon Jay made his return to the lineup after being out of action for the past couple of weeks due to injury. Paco Rodriguez entered the game in relief to pitch against Jay.
And in an at-bat which lasted 13 pitches, Jay chipped a base hit into shallow left field. Wong followed with a base hit into right. Carpenter flied out to end the inning, which brought in Trevor Rosenthal to try and close out the ninth inning, as well as the game. And that’s what Rosenthal did, as the Cardinals won 3-0, improving to 32-16 on the season. Meanwhile, the Dodgers fell to 28-19.
Lackey improved to 3-3 on the year, as Rosenthal got his 14th save of the year.
Tomorrow, Michael Wacha will get the start on the mound for the first place Cardinals.
(AP Photo/Billy Hurst)