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Dodgers' long, suffering Game 1 ends in bitter defeat to Cardinals

Carlos Beltran's hit off Kenley Jansen gives St. Louis a 3-2 victory in the 13th inning after L.A. misses some golden opportunities.

October 11, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

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ST. LOUIS -- Zack Greinke was masterful Friday night, pitching the kind of October game that often turns stars into legends.

He struck out a season-high 10 batters. He limited the St. Louis Cardinals to two runs and four hits over eight mostly-dominant innings.

But the Dodgers lost.

If the Dodgers fail to win the National League Championship Series, this 13-inning, 3-2, walk-off defeat in Game 1 will be remembered not for Greinke's performance, but the incompetence that was exhibited at Busch Stadium.

For starters, the Dodgers were one for 10 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 men on base.

Then, there was the decision-making of Don Mattingly, which will undoubtedly reignite speculation about his future as the Dodgers manager.

While the Cardinals used closer Trevor Rosenthal in the ninth and 10th innings, Mattingly refrained from calling Kenley Jansen out of the bullpen until there were two men on and one out with Carlos Beltran at the plate in the 13th inning. Beltran singled to right, driving in Daniel Descalso for the deciding run.

Perhaps even worse, Mattingly replaced cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez with pinch-runner Dee Gordon in the eighth inning.

The decision resulted in the Cardinals intentionally walking No. 3 hitter Hanley Ramirez to face 36-year-old Michael Young with men in scoring position in the 10th and 12th innings. Both times, Young, who was acquired late in the season for his bat, hit into inning-ending double plays.

"We can look back at every decision," Mattingly said dismissively.

The Dodgers could also look back at every at-bat with runners on base.

Cardinals starter Joe Kelly was shaky in the first inning, but the Dodgers failed to capitalize.

Kelly gave up a one-out single to Mark Ellis and immediately followed that up by plunking Ramirez in the ribs. With Gonzalez at the plate, Kelly uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Ellis and Ramirez to both advance a base. But Gonzalez struck out swinging and so did Yasiel Puig. The threat was over.

The Dodgers went ahead in the third inning, when Ramirez and Gonzalez drew consecutive walks to load the bases with one out. Puig hit a weak comebacker to Kelly that resulted in a forceout at the plate, but division series hero Juan Uribe stroked a single into center field to drive in two runs and give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

But that first inning came back to haunt the Dodgers, who wouldn't score again off Kelly.

Greinke, who retired the first eight batters he faced, gave up a two-out single to Kelly in the bottom of the third inning, then walked Matt Carpenter. Beltran lifted a ball into center field that was missed at the warning track by a leaping Andre Ethier, bouncing off the wall for a double and scoring two runs. It was Ethier's first game in the field since Sept. 13 and the score was tied, 2-2.

"Other than that three-batter stretch, that was probably the game of his life," catcher A.J. Ellis said of Greinke. "That's what hurts about not walking out of here with a win. We weren't able to get a win for him."

Setup man Brian Wilson extended his postseason scoreless streak, but not before forcing Mattingly to endure a real scare. With two outs in the ninth inning, Wilson walked Matt Adams. He followed that with another walk, this one of Yadier Molina on four pitches. Wilson went to a full count against the next batter, Jon Jay, before forcing him to fly out to center field.

Wilson has now pitched in 14 postseason games and hasn't given up an earned run in any of them.

Mattingly trotted out Ronald Belisario, J.P. Howell and Chris Withrow from the bullpen in the extra frames, making the questionable decision of preserving Jansen for a save situation.

"That's pretty much what happens with a closer," Mattingly said. "We're not going to use him early."

In the 10th inning, Mark Ellis tripled to right-center with one out. Knowing Gonzalez was replaced in the cleanup spot by Young, Rosenthal intentionally walked Ramirez.

Young hit a fly ball to right-center, but it wasn't deep enough. Beltran caught it and threw out Ellis at the plate with a strong one-hop delivery, though there was debate as to whether catcher Molina tagged Ellis.

Young hit into another double play with men in scoring position in the 12th inning. With one out and Carl Crawford on second base, Ramirez was walked intentionally again, this time by Lance Lynn. Young hit a grounder to shortstop Pete Kozma that resulted in the easy double play.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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