Matt Kemp homers late, sends Dodgers to NLDS Game 2 win to even the series at 1-1

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The Dodgers experienced a bit of deja vu when Matt Carpenter again turned the game on its head with a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning. It was only a day prior when Carpenter flipped the script, giving the Cardinals a 7-6 lead with a bases-clearing double to right-center off of Clayton Kershaw.

Game 2 starter Zack Greinke had tossed seven shutout innings and took the mound to begin the eighth inning. However, manager Don Mattingly opted to play the match-up when lefty Oscar Taveras was announced as a pinch-hitter. Mattingly strode to the mound, called on southpaw reliever J.P. Howell, and took the ball from Greinke. In a span of about one minute, Taveras ripped a single down the right field line and Carpenter smashed a two-run home run to right-center to tie the game at two apiece.

Just as quickly as Carpenter turned Dodger fans’ smiles upside-down, Matt Kemp fixed the frowns with a go-ahead solo home run to lead off the bottom of the eighth against sidewinding reliever Pat Neshek. The Dodgers were held scoreless from there, giving way to flame-throwing closer Kenley Jansen for the top of the ninth.

Jansen was able to get Yadier Molina to ground out before striking out Kolten Wong and Randal Grichuk consecutively to end the game, evening out the NLDS at 1-1.

The Dodgers scored their first two runs in the bottom of the third inning against Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. A.J. Ellis led off the frame with a double and moved to third on a bloop single to right field by Greinke. Ellis scored on what appeared to be a ground ball double play, but after replay review, was changed to a simple 4-3 ground out. The review helped the Dodgers, as Greinke was on second base and scored on a two-out single by Adrian Gonzalez.

Greinke was outstanding not just on the mound, but at the plate — something he’s well-known for doing. The pitcher went 2-for-3 at the plate. On the mound, the right-hander limited the Cardinals to two hits and two walks while striking out seven in seven innings.

Lynn’s performance would have been good enough to win on most nights. In six innings, he allowed seven hits, walked two, and struck out eight. Carpenter aside, the rest of the Cardinals’ lineup was 3-for-28 (.107) with one extra-base hit (a Wong double). If you’re the Cardinals, it’s hard to blame the pitching for Saturday’s loss when Carpenter was the only one doing any hitting.

Game 3 of the NLDS will take place on Monday in St. Louis as Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu will oppose Cardinals right-hander John Lackey.

Koji Uehara has retired

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Jim Allen of Kyodo News reports that Koji Uehara has retired from baseball.

Uehara, 44, has spent the past two seasons with the Yomiuri Giants, which is the where he began his career way back in 1998. He spent eight years there as a starter, winning 20 games in his rookie season, then one year as a closer and one year in swingman duties before coming to the United States.

Once in the majors he pitched for four different major league teams over nine seasons — the Orioles, Rangers, Red Sox and Cubs — from 2009-2017. In that time he posted an excellent 2.66 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, and 572/78 K/BB ratio in 480.2 innings and notched 95 saves. He won a World Series ring with the Red Sox in 2013 and was an All-Star in 2014. Uehara’s last big league stint in America with the Cubs in 2017, for whom he posted a 3.98 ERA (111 ERA+) in 49 games.

Happy trails to an excellent reliever.