The Wild Card Race Gets Wild as Luis Cruz Leads Dodgers to Walk-Off Win


Dodgers 4 6 0

Cardinals 3 6 2

WP- Belisario (6-1)

LP- Motte (4-5)

HR- Craig (21) M. Ellis (6)

Clayton Kershaw’s season is in jeopardy as he seeks a second opinon on his hip injury. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Worrisome news came out of the Dodger camp before the game as we learned that Clayton Kershaw will not be able to make his scheduled start tomorrow due to his right hip injury. Kersh will be traveling to New York City on Tuesday to seek the expertise of a hip specialist. It is feared that his hip labrum is torn, and that he will require arthroscopic surgery to repair it. That diagnosis would certainly end his season. If you remember, Jerry Hairston Jr. just underwent a similar surgical procedure on his hip which ended his season early. We hope the best for Kershaw, and his health is far more important than his remaining starts on this year’s schedule. Stephen Fife will start in the fourth and final game of the series against the World Champion Cardinals.

Joe Blanton, whose wife just gave birth to their third child Mateo Blanton, takes the mound tonight in the third game of the four-game series against the Red Birds. Congratulations Joe and LeeAndra Blanton! Blanton allowed a first inning two-run homerun to Allen Craig, but he settled down nicely thereafter. The Dodgers tied up the game in the third with a solo homerun by Mark Ellis, but up pop the sixth inning of course. Blanton’s lead-off walk to the opposing pitcher followed by a single and a botched double play allowed the Cardinals to retake the lead and ran Blanton right out of the game and possible win. The Dodgers seemed to be doomed to yet another loss until a bottom of the ninth inning miracle occurred. Luis Cruz, the season’s fan-favorite dimpled cheeked darling, hit a game-tying double which set the stage for a Juan Rivera game-winning pinch-hit. Here’s how the Dodgers pulled this one off…

With two outs in the first inning, Joe Blanton proceeds to be Joe Blanton. Matt Holliday singles, and Allen Craig homers to give the Red Birds an early 2-0 lead. Blanton has now allowed 29 homeruns this season and 30 earned runs as a Dodger.

In the home half of the first, Shane Victorino reaches safely on a throwing error from shortstop Daniel Descalso. Descalso really airmailed that ball well over the head of Craig at first base. Matt Kemp strikes out swinging. With Adrian Gonzalez at the plate, Victorino steals second just ahead of Yadier Molina‘s throw. Adrian Gonzalez’s long single to right allows Victorino to score. The Dodgers cash in that error by Descalso, and the Cardinals now lead by one 2-1. Hanley Ramirez then follows up with a beautiful double to the gap in center, and the runners end up at second and third as the ball rolls all the way to the wall. Ethier ends the inning with a groundout to first. Jaime Garcia had to make 26 pitches in the inning.

In the second, Blanton pitches a very nice 1-2-3 inning and retires David Freese and Skip Schumaker on groundouts and Descalso with a strikeout.

Garcia also shuts the Dodgers down in order in the bottom of the second as Luis Cruz, A.J. Ellis, and Joe Blanton all make out.

The Cardinals are retired in order again in the top of the third.

Shane Victorino stole two bases off of the battery of Garcia/Molina. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

The Dodgers tie up the game in the bottom of the third when Mark Ellis hits a line drive solo homerun to left field! That’s Ellis’s 6th homerun of the season. Victorino draws a walk. With Kemp at the plate, Victorino steals for his second time of the night! The replay looked like the tag got him on his elbow, but we’ll take it. Meanwhile, Matt Kemp strikes out again. Gonzo flies out to left. Hanley grounds out, and they strand Victorino at second.

In the top of the fourth, Blanton is suddenly on a roll and he strikes out Matt Holliday and Allen Craig. Molina grounds out to end the scoreless frame.

The Dodgers go down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth.

Joe Blanton, the new daddy, strikes out David Freese to start the fifth inning. He retires Schumaker and Descalso on ground outs, and all of a sudden Blanton has settled down quite nicely.

Joe Blanton isn’t involved in the decision, but he pitched decently. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Blanton reaches safely on another error by Descalso in the bottom of the fifth. The Cardinals are really missing Hit Machine (Rafael Furcal) right now. Furcal is out for the rest of the year with injury. Mark Ellis flies out, and Victorino lines out to center field. Matt Kemp strikes out for the third time, and I’m really hoping that the Dodgers will shut down Matty for the year. He’s clearly playing through the pain, and I’d rather him get well then risk further injury or possible surgery.

Jaime Garcia draws a lead-off walk in the sixth inning. That breaks the string of 13 consecutive batters retired by Blanton. Jon Jay singles. Matheny asks Matt Carpenter to sacrifice, but here’s the thing…he’s never sacrificed ever in his career. Yet Matheny channels his best Don Mattingly, and lo and behold Carpenter strikes out looking after he collects two strikes on bunt attempts. Matt Holliday grounds into what looks like a double play, but the umpires err once again and say Holliday is safe at first. Mattingly goes out to argue to no avail. He looked out to me. Now the Cards have runners at first and third with two out. Then of course on a 0-2 count Allen Craig singles in the tie breaker, 3-2 St. Louis. That’s going to be all for Joe Blanton who goes out losing. Jamey Wright will come in to pitch to Yadier Molina. Jamey gets his man as Molina grounds into a force out.

Joe Blanton pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing 3 runs off 3 hits, 1 walk, and 6 strikeouts on 91 pitches.

The Dodgers go down meekly in the sixth.

Freese leads-off the seventh with a single to right off Jamey Wright that is. Mattingly will go to the bullpen again, and he brings in the lefty Paco Rodriguez. Schumaker lines out to Mark Ellis who doubles up Freese at first! I love the defense of Mark Ellis. Paco then walks Descalso. Pinch-hitter Shane Robinson flies out to center to end the inning.

Jaime Garcia only allowed two Dodger runs, but he isn’t involved in the decision. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Jaime Garcia pitched 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, 1 walk, and 5 strikeouts on 92 pitches.

Edward Mujica will pitch the bottom of the seventh for St. Louis. Cruz strikes out looking. A.J. Ellis strikes out looking. Bobby Abreu flies out.

Randy Choate is brought in to pitch the top of the eighth for the Dodgers. Jay and Carpenter both ground out, and Mattingly will go to the pen once again. Ronald Belisario will face Matt Holliday. Belisario walks Holliday but comes back to strike out Craig to end the inning.

Mitchell Boggs is the new St. Louis pitcher for the bottom of the eighth inning. Mark Ellis looks at strike three, and the Dodgers have done

nothing since his homerun in the third inning. Victorino grounds out. Matt Kemp grounds out as he goes 0-for-4 on the night. Matt Kemp is now 5 for 48 since slamming into the center field wall at Coors Field. He has struck out 15 times since. His batting average has now dipped to .304 for the season.

 Kemp’s bat may not be alive right now, but his glove sure is. In the ninth, Yadier Molina hits a deep fly ball to center field. Matt Kemp slams into the wall after misplaying the ball, but Kemp doesn’t give up

Matt Kemp slams into a wall again, but his assist to throw out Molina was a key to this Dodger win. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

and runs after the ball which bounces off the wall, picks it up, and guns it to third base to get Molina out! Wow! What a terrific assist! Later we will see that this assist by Bison is very important. Belisario quickly retires the next two batters.

Jason Motte will try to shut the door on the Dodgers, and that’s just what he does. Gonzo lines out to center, and Ramirez whiffs. Andre Ethier manages a two-out single. Dee Gordon is in to pinch-run, and he proceeds to steal second with Luis Cruz at the plate. Luis Cruz then DOUBLES on a line drive over the head of Jon Jay! Jay tries to dive for the ball, but he really had no chance on that Cochito hit. Dee Gordon scores, and the game is all tied up! Elian Herrera comes into pinch-run for Cochito. Juan Rivera then singles on a line drive which just makes it over Descalso’s glove. Herrera beats out the throw to home, and the Dodgers win it in grand walk-off style!

The Dodgers are now 76-70, and they move into a tie with St. Louis for that coveted second Wild Card slot. They remain 7 1/2 games behind San Francisco in the NL West.

Tomorrow afternoon Stephen Fife will be starting in place of the injured Clayton Kershaw in the finale of the series. Adam Wainwright will go to the mound for St. Louis in the 1:10 pm game.