After coasting to a victory last night, the Dodgers and Cardinals played a much tighter affair tonight. Fortunately it was the Dodgers who emerged with a 3-1 win thanks to a stellar start, solid pen work, and enough timely hits.
After struggling with his control the last time out, issuing an uncharacteristic five walks, Clayton Kershaw was locked in today. That said, the Cardinals struck first, plating a run in the 2nd inning after starting it with a double a single for a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers then took the lead in the 3rd after Joc Pederson — who is getting hot, by the way — singled and then advanced to second on a ground out, and later scored on a Justin Turner double down the line in right.
That was certainly enough for Kershaw to hold tonight. After a single in the 3rd, he then retired 13 in a row before issuing in a walk in the 7th, then promptly rebounded by getting the next two batters (with help from Joc).
Kershaw gave up the one run on four hits and a walk, but struck out nine batters over seven innings and 101 pitches to lower his ERA to 2.77.
The offense was even kind enough to get him an insurance run in their half of the 7th. A one-out walk from the recently-promoted Edwin Rios started things and he advanced to second on a swinging bunt. With two down, Max Muncy provided insurance with a single to make it 3-1.
Hard to blame him with the other team involving the Devil and all.
Pedro Baez relieved him and got a pop-up to start. However, he then gave up a single to center that put runners on the corners with one out. Baez rebounded by inducing a soft liner for an out but then issued a walk to load the bases. Thankfully he wiggled out of trouble with a strikeout to strand all three runners and preserve the lead.
Kenley Jansen then took to the mound to close things out in the 9th protecting a two-run lead. Kenley got two grounders for outs on four pitches, but then gave up a ground-ball single after a six-pitch battle. But he managed to end the game on a strikeout to avoid further drama and the Dodgers had their playoff win using the desired formula, so to speak.
Cody Bellinger is definitely back at first.
The Dodgers improve to 76-40 with the victory. They now have an 18-game lead over the Diamondbacks in the NL West, an 8-game lead over the Braves in the NL, and a 0.5-game lead over the Yankees in the MLB.