Scott Kazmir was in complete control on Saturday night, pitching his best game of the season in beating the Cardinals 5-3 in the middle game of a weekend series at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers matched their best winning streak of the season at three straight games.
Kazmir was one out away from his first complete game in two years, throwing 120 pitches for just the third time in his career, and the first time since July 3, 2006.
But his 120th pitch of the night was hit out by former Dodgers minor leaguer Jeremy Hazelbaker, a two-run shot to cut the four-run advantage in half. Kenley Jansen got the final out for his 13th save, preserving the win for Kazmir, who was fantastic on Saturday.
Kazmir allowed three runs on five hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts. It was his longest outing in 60 starts, since his last nine-inning complete game, on May 28, 2014, when he was with the Athletics.
It had to be incredibly satisfying for Kazmir, who allowed four runs and two home runs in each of his last two starts yet insisted he was close to putting things together. Manager Dave Roberts on Monday called Kazmir "snakebit," and said that every mistake he made was getting hit out of the ballpark.
On Saturday, Kazmir found a solution, which was to not make a mistake. At least not in the first 119 pitches.
The only other blemish against Kazmir was a run that was all but gift wrapped by the Dodgers in the fifth inning. Corey Seager threw wildly to first base on an easy ground ball to shortstop by Jedd Gyorko, who went to second base on the error. A wild pitch by Kazmir behind Aledmys Diaz moved Gyorko to third base, then he scored on a sacrifice fly by pitcher Carlos Martinez.
Adrian Gonzalez had two hits and two RBI in the victory, including a home run in the fourth inning, hit to the opposite field which is usually a harbinger of good things to come for him.
Seager had three hits, including a home run in the eighth inning to pad the lead.
The Dodgers' offense reached five runs for a third straight game, for the first time all season.
Martinez allowed one run in his first four innings and needed just 45 pitches to do so, but the fifth was a different story. He walked two and saw Kazmir, who can barely swing the bat while dealing with a sore thumb, bunt a ball with two strikes that got past Martinez and into no man's land for a base hit.
Seager, who had two errors Saturday and three in his last two games, singled home the go-ahead run, then Justin Turner hit a sacrifice fly for another. Then Gonzalez really wore out Martinez, fouling off seven pitches en route to a 12-pitch at-bat. The long battle resulted in a ground out to first, but it scored another run, the third of the inning.
Martinez threw 40 pitches in the inning, then saw Kazmir get through the top of the sixth in only five pitches.
The Dodgers go for the series sweep on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, a 5 p.m. PT start, with Alex Wood on the mound. Mike Leake starts the series finale for St. Louis
Home runs: Adrian Gonzalez (4), Corey Seager (4); Jeremy Hazelbaker (7)
WP - Scott Kazmir (3-3): 8⅔ IP, 5 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Carlos Martinez (4-3): 5 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (13): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout