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Rally falls short after umpire strands Mookie Betts in ninth

Los Angeles Dodgers v St. Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Dodgers dropped the third game of the four-game series to the Cardinals at Busch Stadium after the back-and-forth one-run battle ended on a couple of terrible calls by the umpire on Mookie Betts in the ninth inning.

The Cardinals surged late and held on to a 6-5 win over the Dodgers Saturday evening. St. Louis now leads the series 2-1 with one game remaining. Noah Syndergaard gave the Dodgers five innings of work, but the taxed L.A. bullpen was unable to hold off the hot St. Louis hitters in the later frames.

Starting Rotation on Thin Ice

The Dodgers’ starting rotation was hit with another big blow. Before their game in St. Louis Saturday, the Dodgers announced Julio Urías was placed on the IL with a left hamstring strain. Dustin May’s forearm injury already left the rotation depth thin, and the Dodgers’ bullpen has been overworked.

In his last start Urías was hammered by the Cardinals and gave up a single-inning franchise-record four home runs in the third inning. The Dodgers went on to lose 16-8 in disastrous fashion at Busch Stadium on Thursday. There were rumblings as to whether Urías was tipping his pitches, but perhaps his struggles in the start were due to the hamstring injury.

If the Dodgers’ starting pitching woes weren’t bad enough, Noah Syndergaard’s finger has been glued back together his last few starts. The Cardinals jumped all over Syndergaard in the first inning, putting up the first run of the game on a Wilson Contreras RBI single.

The Cardinals scored again against Syndergaard in the second inning. Alec Burleson easily caught up to Syndergaard’s 92-mph sinker for an RBI double and a 2-0 lead. Lars Nootblaar notched a third run for St. Louis with a sac fly.

The first base hit of the game for the Dodgers came in the top of the fourth inning when Freddie Freeman legged out a one-out single up the middle.

David Peralta stayed back on a Mikolas breaking ball for a one-out double in the top of the fifth. Jason Heyward bounced a ball off Mikolas and past Paul DeJong at shortstop to give the Dodgers runners at the corners. Austin Barnes grounded into an inning-ending force out to squash the Dodgers’ first look at the game that they had to that point.

Mookie and Freddie lead way

The Dodgers’ top of the order had to take matters into their own hands in the sixth. Betts and Freeman singled consecutively to give the Dodgers yet another shot with runners at the corners.

J.D. Martinez, a professional hitter, came up big with a three-run home run off Mikolas to tie the game at 3-3.

Yency Almonte took over for Syndergaard in the bottom of the sixth and pitched a scoreless frame. That’s a good sign for the struggling reliever. Justin Bruihl contributed a 1-2-3 seventh for the Dodgers as well.

The Dodgers had another opportunity in the top of the eighth after they got the go-ahead run on base with a Freeman HBP. Cardinals’ reliever Ryan Helsley struck out Martinez and Max Muncy to preserve the tie.

L.A. Bullpen Hits Another Bump

Victor Gonzalez had been lights out for the Dodgers since returning to the Dodgers in late April. Tommy Edman nearly hit one out but settled for a leadoff double. Dave Roberts chose to intetionally walk notorious Dodgers tormentor Paul Goldschmidt. Nolan Gorman seized the opportunity off a left-hander and clobbered a Gonzalez sinker 400 ft. and 104.6-mph off the bat for a three-run home run. The Red Birds took a 6-3 lead and nearly all wind out of the Dodgers’ sails.

The Dodgers brought up the tying run to the plate in the ninth after a leadoff Miguel Vargas double and a Peralta single in the top of the ninth against Helsely. Heyward’s RBI single pulled the Dodgers within two runs of the Cardinals. Will Smith’s pinch-hit sac fly made it a one-run game. Some particularly bad strike calls on Betts, the final batter, ended the game and the late rally for the Dodgers.

Saturday particulars

Home run: J.D. Martinez (6), Nolan Gorman (13)

WP — Ryan Helsley (2-2): 1 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, no walks, 2 strikeouts

LP — Victor Gonzalez (1-1): 13 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

S — Giovanny Gallegos (4)

Up next

The Dodgers and Cardinals wrap up their four-game series and their regular season series on Sunday (11:15 a.m PT, SportsNet LA). Clayton Kershaw (6-3, 2.52 ERA, 10.57 K/9) takes the mound for the Dodgers in the series finale. Jack Flaherty (3-4, 5.24 ERA, 5.63 BB/9) gets the ball for St. Louis.