For the second time in less than a week, the Dodgers came back to life after an early deficit to the Cardinals. A pair of big innings, followed by more outstanding work from the bullpen landed the Dodgers a 9-4 victory.
The Dodgers — winners of 24 of the last 33 games — now occupy first place in the NL West all by themselves for the first time in 2017.
Kenta Maeda struggled to get outs in the first inning, allowing the first four batters to reach for St. Louis on three singles and a walk. For a struggling team, going down 3-0 in the first would be devastating. But the Dodgers have been rolling on offense and once again proved it wouldn’t faze them.
Adrian Gonzalez got the Dodgers on the board with a sacrifice fly in the third as the offense went to work on Cardinals’ starter, Michael Wacha. A ground-rule double off the bat of Chase Utley to score Yasmani Grandal, followed by a two-run single from Kiké Hernandez, would give the Dodgers the lead for good.
Maeda would last only four innings on the night, surrendering three walks to go along with four hits and the three runs. The early exit had more to do with the rally in the fifth inning and the faith in a bullpen that has been lights out.
Yasiel Puig and Franklin Gutierrez — hitting for Maeda — each walked with the bases loaded during a three-run fifth that gave the Dodgers a 7-3 lead, plenty of room to work with for the bullpen.
The red birds would score a run, however, on a solo shot for Yadier Molina off Chris Hatcher. Oddly enough, Molina was responsible for the last time anybody scored on a Dodger reliever when he homered off Sergio Romo last Wednesday.
Los Angeles would tack on a pair of insurance runs in the ninth before handing the ball to Kenley Jansen to finish off the Cardinals.
The Dodgers will start Hyun-jin Ryu against Cardinal right-hander Carlos Martinez. First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. PT on Wednesday night.
Home runs: Yadier Molina (5)
WP - Brandon Morrow (1-0): 1 IP
LP - Michael Wacha (2-3): 3 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs (3 earned), 3 walks, 4 strikeouts