Atlanta Braves v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Three

Dodgers rout Braves to take 2-1 lead in NLDS


It was a close back-and-forth affair between the Braves and Dodgers for the first three and a half innings in Game 3 of the NLDS in Los Angeles tonight. The game was tied at four-all, then the Dodger offense woke up, building a lead as large as nine runs entering the bottom of the ninth.

The Braves gave starter Julio Teheran a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on two RBI singles. The right-hander would fork over the lead in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu followed by a three-run home run by Carl Crawford. The Braves quickly tied the game up in the top of the third on two defensive miscues by Ryu, failing to touch first base covering on a double play attempt, then making a late throw home on a fielder’s choice attempt, allowing the Braves to score a run on each blunder.

In the bottom half of the third, the Dodgers took the lead again on RBI singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Skip Schumaker. They put the game out of reach in the fourth against Braves reliever Alex Wood as Hanley Ramirez hit an RBI triple, Yasiel Puig hit an RBI single, and Juan Uribe blasted an opposite-field two-run home run to put his team up 10-4. The four runs scored in the fourth were all unearned as Crawford reached to lead off the inning, prompting the avalanche.

Neither starter could make it past the third inning. Ryu needed 68 pitches to get through three innings, allowing the four runs on six hits and a walk while striking out just one batter. Teheran needed 66 pitches to get through two and two-thirds, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five.

Chris Capuano came on in relief of Ryu, holding the Braves scoreless over three innings without allowing a hit, though he did walk three while striking out three. J.P. Howell pitched one and one-third scoreless before giving way to Ronald Belisario, who finished the eighth without any damage.

With runners on first and second against Braves reliever Jordan Walden in the eighth, Ramirez lined a single to left-center to plate his team’s 11th run of the game. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez brought in Luis Avilan to keep the faintest glimmer of hope alive, but Gonzalez hit a grounder back up the middle which Avilan deflected. Second baseman Elliott Johnson was unable to make a play as the Dodgers’ 12th run crossed the plate. Puig lined an RBI single to right field, allowing Ramirez to touch home for run number 13. David Hale came in and finally closed the barn door after the horse had bolted. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly called on Paco Rodriguez in the ninth. The lefty allowed a one-out two-run home run to Jason Heyward and a two-out single to Evan Gattis. Kenley Jansen came in and struck out Brian McCann for out number 27 to wrap up the 13-6 victory at long last.

The Dodgers can wrap up the NLDS at home tomorrow night behind starter Ricky Nolasco, who will oppose Braves right-hander Freddy Garcia in Game 4.

Cardinals take 1-0 NLDS lead over the Cubs behind John Lackey’s brilliant outing

John Lackey
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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John Lackey flirted with a no-hitter but settled for 7 1/3 terrific, shutout innings to beat the Cubs in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. The right-hander held the opposition to two hits and a walk while striking out five. Lefty reliever Kevin Siegrist struck out two to finish the eighth without issue. Closer Trevor Rosenthal worked around a one-out walk and a two-out single in the ninth to seal the 4-0 win, recording all three outs on called strike threes.

Lackey brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but lost it quickly when Addison Russell hit a ground ball single up the middle to lead off the frame. Russell would steal second base but was stranded.

Opposing starter Jon Lester wasn’t too shabby himself, relenting three runs on five hits while walking one and striking out nine in 7 1/3 innings. The first run came around in the first inning on Matt Holliday‘s RBI single, which followed a one-out double by Stephen Piscotty. Tommy Pham pinch-hit in the pitcher’s spot in the eighth inning and launched a solo home run off of Lester to double the Cardinals’ lead. Lester walked Matt Carpenter before exiting. Pedro Strop came in and promptly served up a two-run home run to Stephen Piscotty.

The closest the Cubs came to scoring was when Dexter Fowler sent a deep fly ball to right field with a man on base and two outs in the sixth inning, but Randal Grichuk caught it with a foot or two to spare in front of the fence on the warning track.

The two clubs will play Game 2 of the NLDS on Saturday at 5:30 PM EDT. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs and oppose Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia.

Astros err in letting Scott Kazmir start sixth

Scott Kazmir
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Scott Kazmir went winless with a 6.52 ERA in six September starts. He allowed 41 hits, eight of them homers, in 29 innings, posting an 18/11 K/BB ratio. When the Astros got five innings of two-run ball from him Friday against the Royals, they should have thanked their good fortune and moved right along to the pen.

And they knew this. They must have. Josh Fields got up in the pen after Kazmir issued a one-out walk in the fifth. The left-hander got out of the frame, making himself eligible for the victory in what was then a 4-2 game, but it was still very surprising to see him come back out for the sixth, particularly with the switch-hitting Ben Zobrist (.926 OPS against lefties) and right-handed Lorenzo Cain due up.

Kazmir retired Zobrist, but he gave up a double to Cain. He was then pulled, even with the left-handed Eric Hosmer coming up. Manager A.J. Hinch had committed my biggest baseball pet peeve: he sent his starter back to the mound with the idea of pulling him after his first mistake.

It worked out terribly. Oliver Perez gave up a pair of soft hits to Hosmer and Kendrys Morales before walking Mike Moustakas. Fields then entered and walked the unwalkable Salvador Perez to tie the game at 4. The Astros gave up another run in the seventh and lost the game 5-4.

Maybe that’s the way it would have worked out anyway. Kazmir did give up just the one baserunner. It might not have even harmed the Astros if Perez had better luck.

Still, the thinking that went into the decision was disturbing. It’s always better to bring that reliever in with no one on base when you can. That’s especially the case with this Astros pen, which lacks a double-play specialist, much less a Wade Davis. But anyone in that pen would have been a better choice than sending Kazmir out to face Zobrist and Cain for a third time. Hinch needs to be more aggressive going forward.

Cardinals’ giveaway incorrectly claims ownership of 2001 division title

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The Cardinals have won so many division titles, it’s tough to keep track of them all. At least, it would be tough if it weren’t for Baseball Reference.

40,000 rally towels were given away to fans at Busch Stadium ahead of Friday’s NLDS Game 1 against the Cubs. The towel listed all of the years the Cardinals won the NL Central… and 2001. That year, they tied with the Astros for the best record in the National League at 93-69. However, because the Astros won the season series 9-7, they were awarded first place and the Cardinals took the Wild Card.