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Dodgers' Randy Wolf is ready for his debut

The veteran left-hander is finally in the postseason and plans to make the most of it against the Cardinals tonight.


The Dodgers did something Wednesday night they had never previously done.

They beat Chris Carpenter.

The Dodgers were right. This was a new season.

They looked like anything but the team that crawled its way to the division title last week, slapping around Carpenter for four runs and nine hits in five innings on their way to a 5-3 victory that gave them a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five National League division series.

Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run in the first inning. Andre Ethier was hit by a pitch on his left foot in the third and later scored on a single by Casey Blake. Rafael Furcal drove in Ronnie Belliard in the fifth on a sacrifice fly.

The Dodgers were on their way.

"I don't know what to say," said James Loney, who was two for four with a walk. "A lot of people try to dissect it, but we just go out there and see what happens."

That Randy Wolf lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his playoff debut was inconsequential.

The Ryan Ludwick fly ball that dropped between Belliard and Kemp in the first inning for a run-scoring single? Also of no importance.

The ball that got past Kemp in the ninth inning? Bah.

The same was true of the 16 men the Dodgers left on base or how they were two for 15 with men in scoring position.

So much for the talk of Cardinals having two aces and the Dodgers having none.

A leading candidate to win the Cy Young Award, Carpenter went into the game with a 5-0 record and 2.20 earned-run average against the Dodgers. He beat them twice this season, limiting them to three runs over 15 innings in two starts.

He didn't look like the same pitcher on this night.

"I don't know if I could have thrown a better pitch for him to hit out," Carpenter said of the down-the-middle pitch he served up to Kemp. "That's where he wants the ball."

Today, the Dodgers will face the Cardinals' co-ace, Adam Wainwright.

Manager Joe Torre's players had a look about them that differed from their end-of-the-season demeanor.

The same players who continued to laugh during the five-game losing streak that delayed their coronation as the NL West champions last week suddenly weren't laughing.

"This is the time to fight now," Ethier said. "You're going to do what it takes to win. It's evident in the regular season, when we had a big opponent that game -- the Giants, the Rockies, it was a little bit more business-like."

That didn't translate into better results for everyone -- particularly Wolf, who pitched his first playoff game in 11 seasons as a major leaguer.

Left-handers batted only .159 against Wolf this season, but he started the game by walking Skip Schumaker, a left-hander. He loaded the bases before recording an out.

But by striking out Matt Holliday and forcing Yadier Molina to ground into an inning-ending double play, Wolf managed to limit the damage in the 32-pitch inning to Ludwick's run-scoring bloop single.

"I could have been disastrous, really," Wolf said. "Obviously, I didn't have great location today, but it could've been a whole lot worse."

Wolf walked another left-hander, Colby Rasmus, to start the fourth inning and, again, he was punished, this time when Schumaker drove him in with a double.

With two out, the bases loaded and the Dodgers holding a 3-2 edge, Wolf was replaced by Jeff Weaver, who forced Ludwick to hit an inning-ending comebacker and then threw a scoreless fifth inning.

Told the previous day that he would be a situational right-hander, Weaver said with a smirk, "A situation came up where I had to pitch another inning." Weaver's 1 1/3 innings started a 5 1/3 -inning run in which the Dodgers' bullpen held the Cardinals to one run.

Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect sixth inning. The Dodgers extended their lead to 5-2 in that bottom half of the inning when Russell Martin was drilled in the back by Kyle McClellan with the bases loaded.

Hong-Chih Kuo gave up a pair of two-out hits in the seventh, but struck out pinch-hitter Troy Glaus to get out of the jam.

George Sherrill got two outs in the eight, setting the stage for a four-out save by Jonathan Broxton, who entered the game an inning early to get Albert Pujols to ground out to third.

The Cardinals were three for 13 with men in scoring position, the last of those hits being a ninth-inning line drive by Mark DeRosa that turned into a run-scoring double when it dipped under the glove of an onrushing Kemp in center field.

The combined 30 men left on base in the game set a new NLDS record.

But the Dodgers had the victory, and that's what counted most.

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