The win for the Dodgers secured a second straight series win, a winning road trip, and rather amazingly moved the club to within three games of San Francisco in the National League West. The Dodgers have cut their 6½-game deficit at the All-Star break by more than half in only 10 days.
For the second time in five days, the Dodgers jumped all over a pitcher making his major league debut. Mike Mayers was the victim on Sunday, called up from Triple-A Memphis only to see the Dodgers load the bases with nobody out in the first inning.
Gonzalez followed with a grand slam to center field, his second straight game with a home run, and the first time since July 12 & 17, 2015 that he hit home runs in consecutive games.
Four batters in, the Dodgers had a 4-0 lead.
Last time a Dodgers cleanup batter hit a 1st-inning grand slam was June 7, 1976 vs. PHI. Lopes, Bucker & Garvey singled. Cey hit a slam.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) July 25, 2016
Gonzalez on the night had three hits, and since his two days of not starting in Pittsburgh on June 26-27 is hitting .349/.433/.542 with 18 RBI in 22 games. He is the eighth different Dodger with four or more RBI in a game this season, and on Sunday had the fourth such game for the team on his road trip.
Kendrick followed with a double, and Mayers' first-inning troubles were far from over. Scott Kazmir got to bat in the first inning before he even took the mound, and helped himself with a two-run single up the middle, doubling his career RBI total.
But the Dodgers weren't done after a six-run first inning, tying their largest output in any single inning in 2016. With one out in the second inning, singles by Justin Turner and Gonzalez produced, with the help of a throwing error, one run, followed by Howie Kendrick muscling an opposite-field home run into the seats in right field for a 9-1 lead.
Mayers ended his night allowing nine runs while recording just four outs, the first pitcher to allow nine runs to the Dodgers in an outing that short since Taylor Phillips of the Milwaukee Braves on July 15, 1957 at Ebbets Field.
But his start was even more rare.
Mike Mayers is the first pitcher in MLB history to give up 9+ ER in less than 2 innings during his debut.— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) July 25, 2016
Kendrick on the night was 2-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 16 games, the longest active streak in baseball. The only hitting streak longer in Kendrick's career was an 18-game his streak from June 20 to July 9, 2011 with the Angels.
Pickle juice and mustard was on the menu for Kazmir's last start as he battled through calf cramps, but Sunday might as well have included Bartles & Jaymes, thankful for all the run support. But that's nothing new for Kazmir, who has seen the Dodgers score 111 runs in his 20 starts, an average of 5.55 per contest.
Kazmir allowed three runs in the first two innings, but was able to last through five without allowing the Cardinals to creep any closer. And he threw strikes for the most part, with no walks on the night.
Turner and Corey Seager each added two hits, making the Dodgers' 2-5 hitters a combined 9-for-19 (.474) on the night with two home runs, two doubles, seven runs scored and six RBI. Joc Pederson added two singles and two walks in the win.
All good things...
Adam Liberatore began the seventh inning with a 9-3 lead, but after a strikeout allowed a single and two walks to load the bases. It was just the second time this season Liberatore walked two in a game, also doing so on May 22 in San Diego.
That second walk was the end of Liberatore's night, which brought in Joe Blanton in relief. It also marked the end of Liberatore's scoreless streak, as Blanton allowed a sacrifice fly and a two-run double to cut the Dodgers' lead to 9-6.
Liberatore's scoreless appearance streak ended at 28, a Dodgers franchise record. The only other time Liberatore allowed a run this season was May 18 in Anaheim. Before Sunday, Liberatore bequeathed 12 runners in his 42 appearances, in games he left in the middle of an inning, and none of them scored. On Sunday, all three runners he left on the bases scored.
Such is baseball.
Kenley Jansen retired the Cardinals in the ninth inning for his 29th save of the season.
The Dodgers are off Monday, then open a brief interleague two-game set against the Rays at home. With trade winds swirling, Chris Archer starts for Tampa Bay in the opener on Tuesday, against Bud Norris, technically on three days rest after his 1⅓ innings of relief on Friday night in St. Louis.
Home runs: Adrian Gonzalez (9), Howie Kendrick (6); Tommy Pham (6)
WP - Scott Kazmir (9-3): 5 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 3 strikeouts
LP - Mike Mayers (0-1): 1⅓ IP, 8 hits, 9 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Sv - Kenley Jansen (29): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts