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CARDINALS FYI

Postgame is no holiday for Cardinals' Matt Holliday

'It's tough to swallow,' the left fielder says of his error that gave the Dodgers an opening in the ninth inning.

October 09, 2009|Ben Bolch

Matt Holliday might have cemented his name into postseason lore.

Not the Reggie Jackson or Joe Carter kind.

The Bill Buckner kind.

With the bases empty and two out in the ninth inning Thursday evening at Dodger Stadium, all Holliday had to do was catch James Loney's sinking liner and the St. Louis Cardinals would beat the Dodgers to tie the National League division series at one game apiece.

"I had it," the Cardinals' left fielder said of a ball hit directly at him. "I was coming in to get it and then all of a sudden I couldn't see it."

Holliday lost the ball in the lights. He tried to adjust his glove at the last second, but the ball smacked him in the stomach for an error that triggered the Dodgers' stunning 3-2 come-from-behind victory in Game 2.

It was a mistake that felt like a blow to the gut of an entire franchise after the Cardinals fell into a two-games-to-none hole in the best-of-five series.

"It makes you sick to your stomach," St. Louis shortstop Brendan Ryan said of the defeat. "I don't really know what to say. I'm at a loss for words."

Amid a hushed Cardinals clubhouse, Holliday slowly buttoned his dress shirt and turned to face wave after wave of reporters inquiring about a mistake that undoubtedly will be replayed hundreds of times.

"I had it in the beginning," he said, "but as I came in the ball came down into the lights and I couldn't see it. It's tough. You have a chance to win the game and then it turns out you don't. It's tough to swallow. Obviously, I feel terrible."

St. Louis still had several chances to win after Loney reached second base on the error. The Cardinals had a 2-1 lead and All-Star closer Ryan Franklin needed only one more out.

Then Franklin needed only one more strike. He couldn't get it.

He walked Casey Blake on a full count before Ronnie Belliard singled up the middle on the next pitch to tie the score. Russell Martin walked to load the bases for pinch-hitter Mark Loretta, who drove in the game-winning run on a blooper to center field.

Ryan crouched in disbelief as the Dodgers gleefully poured out of their dugout to mob Loretta in the infield.

"It just comes down to one really weird inning," said Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who held the Dodgers to one run in eight innings. "We probably should have won the game, no doubt about that."

Wainwright shouldered some of the blame, saying he shouldn't have given up Andre Ethier's fourth-inning homer. The Cardinals' hitters talked about how they were 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. And then there was Holliday.

"We're not talking about any of that," Holliday said, "if I catch the ball."

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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