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ST. LOUIS 6, DODGERS 1

Dodgers don't fret over loss to Cardinals

L.A. gets 11 hits but can muster only one run against Chris Carpenter.

July 28, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

ST. LOUIS — Manny Ramirez said it was too early in the year to look ahead to the postseason.

Randy Wolf said the game felt like any other.

But in a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Monday night, the Dodgers saw firsthand the kind of team they could be up against come October.

"You look at who we're facing, every guy has like nine wins with a two-something ERA," Wolf said. "Then you have the lineup . . . it kind of goes on. You've got to be on your game. If you're off, they're going to punish you."

Wolf (5-5), who gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings, was beaten in the opening game of the four-game series by Chris Carpenter (9-3), who held the Dodgers to a run in seven innings to lower his earned-run average to 2.19.

Today and Wednesday, the Dodgers will face Adam Wainwright and Joel Pineiro, who have earned-run averages of 2.95.

Manager Joe Torre said last weekend that he was curious to see how the Dodgers' high-scoring lineup would respond to pitching of this caliber. He said he was satisfied with the effort, pointing to the 11 hits they collected, including nine against Carpenter.

"I thought we were fine," Torre said. "We had a lot of guys on base. A base hit here or there makes it different. We certainly weren't shut down. We didn't get key hits."

Sometimes that was because of Carpenter, who forced the Dodgers to ground into four double plays, including two by Ramirez.

The Dodgers were one for nine with men in scoring position.

"We had opportunities," Torre said. "Carpenter was pretty darn good when he needed to be, which is not a surprise. He's that kind of pitcher where he can get a ground ball. Certainly, we had him on the ropes a couple of times, even with good counts."

Other times, it was because of the defense behind him, in particular that of right fielder Ryan Ludwick.

Ludwick made a diving catch on a ball hit by Casey Blake with none out and Andre Ethier on first base in the fourth inning.

"I didn't think he was going to get to Casey's ball," Torre said.

The next batter, James Loney, drove the ball to the top of the wall, only to have it snagged by a leaping Ludwick for the second out.

Russell Martin followed that up with a single and Matt Kemp drew a walk to load the bases, but Wolf struck out.

The Dodgers trailed, 2-1, and never got closer.

Wolf kept the Dodgers within striking distance for six innings, but what unfolded in a four-run seventh for the Cardinals was an illustration of why the Dodgers are looking to add an experienced arm to their bullpen by the trade deadline Friday.

The bottom half of the inning started with James McDonald serving up a leadoff home run to Mark DeRosa. With two on and two out, McDonald was replaced by fellow rookie Brent Leach, who gave up a run-scoring single to Rick Ankiel.

Leach gave way to Guillermo Mota, who let two more runs score on a double by Brendan Ryan.

Whereas the Dodgers continue to look for bullpen help -- they might have found it in setup man Hong-Chih Kuo, who pitched a scoreless inning in his first game in nearly three months -- the Cardinals have already addressed their needs.

The Cardinals' first three runs were driven in by three players acquired in the last month -- Matt Holliday, Julio Lugo and DeRosa.

Holliday, a former All-Star who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics in exchange for three prospects, played in his new home ballpark for the first time and received a standing ovation in his first trip to the plate.

He doubled to center field to drive in DeRosa and received another standing ovation.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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