Cardinals outlast Dodgers to reclaim wild card lead

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This weekend’s series in Los Angeles settled nothing, as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers in 12 innings Sunday to split a four-game series.

Shelby Miller, long the Cardinals’ No. 1 pitching prospect, earned his first major league victory and John Ely, the Dodgers’ ninth pitcher of the day, took the loss in a 5-2 game Sunday.

The win gave the Cardinals the same one-game lead over the Dodgers for the second wild card they held when the series started Thursday.

The Cards jumped right out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first today, but the Dodgers tied it back up in the third on an Andre Ethier homer. That was the end of the scoring until the 12th, when Jon Jay doubled in Matt Carpenter to make it a 3-2 game. The Cards added insurance runs on an Allen Craig single and a Yadier Molina bases-l0aded walk.

The Dodgers got a strong spot start from Stephen Fife in place of injured ace Clayton Kershaw. He struck out nine in his five innings of work. After that, seven relievers combined on six scoreless innings. Only Ely, who gave up all three runs in the 12th, struggled. Josh Wall was brought in to finish the frame, making him the Dodgers’ franchise record 10th pitcher of the game.

The Cards used just five pitchers. Adam Wainwright pitched six innings of two-run ball, and then Trevor Rosenthal and Fernando Salas pitched two innings apiece. Miller probably would have gone two or three innings himself had the game remain tied, but after the Cards took the lead, Jason Motte came in to work the bottom of the 12th for his 35th save.

The Cardinals and Dodgers both have 15 games left, and the Cards would seem to have a big advantage when it comes to the schedule. Their next nine games are versus the Astros and Cubs. The Dodgers are set to go on a nine-game road trip that includes the Nationals, Reds and Padres. Other teams are in the mix as well, with the Brewers and Pirates sitting two games back of the Cards in the loss column.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.