Dodgers score twice in third, fourth innings to take 4-1 lead over Cardinals in NLDS Game 1

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Update: Make that 6-1, as A.J. Ellis ended Wainwright’s start after crushing a two-run home run to left field with one out in the fifth inning. As of this writing, Ellis is 3-for-3.

The narrative will be that the benches-clearing incident to lead off the bottom of the third inning rattled Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright. The reality is that Wainwright just isn’t all that sharp. The right-hander has allowed multiple hits in each of his first four innings, and the Dodgers were able to capitalize on it for two runs in each of the third and fourth innings.

After hitting Puig and the benches emptied in the third, Wainwright initially bounced back and got two quick outs. But Hanley Ramirez ripped a two-out single to right field, scoring Puig from second base. Ramirez then stole second and scored when Carl Crawford laced a ground-rule double to right. Crawford scampered to third base on a wild pitch but was stranded when Juan Uribe loudly flied out to center field to end the third inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, A.J. Ellis lined a single to center field. Clayton Kershaw bunted Ellis to second, and Dee Gordon pushed Ellis to third with a weak ground out to first baseman Matt Adams. Again, the Dodgers mounted a two-out rally. Puig singled to left field to make it 3-1. After Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk, moving Puig to second base, Matt Kemp lifted a single to left field to push across the Dodgers’ second fourth-inning run and their fourth run of the game. Ramirez lined out to end the threat. Overall, Wainwright has allowed nine hits and a walk while striking out four in four innings.

Spotting Kershaw a one-run lead is bad enough, but now it’s up to three runs. Since giving up a one-out solo home run to Randal Grichuk in the first inning, the left-hander has retired 14 consecutive batters. He struck out five consecutively, striking out the side in the fourth, then fanning Yadier Molina and Matt Adams in the fifth before Pete Kozma weakly popped up. This is a mountain of a task for the Cardinals.