LOS ANGELES -- After a powerless first four games of the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers bats came alive on Wednesday afternoon. Home runs by Adrian Gonzalez (twice), Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis backed superb pitching from Zack Greinke, giving the Dodgers a 6-4 win over the Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium.
The win kept the Dodgers alive, and the series heads to St. Louis with the Cardinals leading three games to two.
On a day Orel Hershiser threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium on the 25th anniversary of his shutout and 3-for-3 batting performance in Game 2 of the 1988 World Series, Greinke's single was the third postseason hit by a Dodgers pitcher since Hershiser's performance. Dodgers pitchers are now 3-for-69 (.043) at the plate in the playoffs in the last 25 years.
Just like in Game 1, the Cardinals answered right back with two runs of their own to tie the game. Carlos Beltran hit another ball to the center field wall out of Andre Ethier's reach, then a carom that got away from Ethier allowed Beltran to reach third with a triple. Matt Holliday bounced one off the wall in left center field to tie the game at 2-2.
St. Louis might have added more in the inning, with runners at the corners and one out, but Yadier Molina grounded into his second double play in the first three innings.
Greinke settled down to last seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits, with a walk and four strikeouts. It was the 15th consecutive start allowing two or fewer runs for Greinke, who looked on the ropes at 61 pitches through three innings.
In his Game 1 start Greinke retired his final 14 batters faced. In his Game 5 start he retired his final 13 batters faced.
Unlike Game 1 however, the Dodgers were able to score again off Kelly.
Gonzalez took him deep in the third, well into the right field pavilion for a 3-2 lead. Gonzalez, whose "Mickey Mouse" antics displeased the Cardinals in Game 3, rather enjoyed his trip around the bases in Game 5, and completed his celebration by making Mickey Mouse ears heading back into the dugout.
It was the first home run of the NLCS for the Dodgers.
Carl Crawford added another solo homer in the fifth. During the regular season Crawford hit six home runs in 469 plate appearances, and has hit four in 41 plate appearances in the playoffs. Including the postseason, nine of Crawford's 10 home runs this season have been hit at home. The only one with more home runs hit at Dodger Stadium in 2013 is Gonzalez, with 13.
A.J. Ellis added his first postseason home run in the seventh inning, and Gonzalez hit another solo shot in the eighth to make it 6-2. Gonzalez had the 10th multi-homer game in Dodgers postseason history.
St. Louis scored twice off Kenley Jansen in the ninth and even put the tying runs on base, but he was able to escape. On to St. Louis.
The Dodgers will fly back to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, and will send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound to start Game 6 in St. Louis on Friday night. The Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha, who held the Dodgers scoreless in Game 2.
Game 4 particulars
Home runs: Adrian Gonzalez 2 (3), Carl Crawford (4), A.J. Ellis (1)
WP - Zack Greinke (1-1): 7 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Joe Kelly (0-1): 5 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts