ST. LOUIS (AP) — Joe Kelly grew up in Southern California rooting for the Angels and hating the Los Angeles Dodgers. Losing to them hurt that much more.
“My family hated them. They still do,” Kelly said after the St. Louis Cardinals’ 5-3 loss on Monday night. “I put too much pressure on myself out there.
“Maybe it got to me.”
Kelly (1-3), a rookie right-hander from Corona, Calf., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, has been impressive as the replacement for injured lefty Jaime Garcia. He worked six innings in 101-degree heat and gave up four hits and two earned runs for his sixth consecutive quality start.
“Joe did a good job, especially not knowing if he was going to get out of the first,” manager Mike Matheny said.
Kelly had a tougher day from a physical standpoint. He contributed to Mark Ellis’ double-play ball the second at-bat of the game by deflecting a high chopper with his pitching hand, prompting a visit from team trainers and a brief delay to make sure he could still pitch.
“They were stinging for quite a while. Nothing too painful. It felt like I got stung by a bee,” Kelly said.
Kelly got a second visit from the trainer after beating out an infield hit in the fifth, then stumbling over the bag and sprawling to the ground. Earlier in the at-bat, Kelly barely missed a homer on a ball that replays indicated was less than a foot outside the foul pole in left.
At first, Kelly thought he hit first baseman Juan Rivera’s foot.
“I just hit the base, it came up quicker than I thought,” he said. “The left ankle just hit the base, rolled and I took a tumble.”
Chad Billingsley returned from the disabled list with a strong outing that ended a five-start losing streak and Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer as the Dodgers won their fifth in a row.
Cruz, recalled July 2 to replaced injured shortstop Dee Gordon, has two career homers and 12 RBIs. Eight of his 14 hits are for extra bases. His three-run shot in the second barely cleared the left-field wall — the ball conked left fielder Matt Holliday on the rebound — to give the Dodgers the early jump in their eighth straight win over St. Louis dating to April 17, 2011.
Kenley Jansen struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 24 chances. The Dodgers also won eight in a row against St. Louis from 1975-76, their best streak in the series since moving to Los Angeles.
Carlos Beltran homered for the second straight game with a two-run shot in the eighth for the Cardinals, hitting his 22nd of the year off Ronald Belisario. But St. Louis was 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position, failing to build on a three-game sweep of the Cubs in which it outscored Chicago 23-1.
Ellis added a two-run double in the seventh off Victor Marte, the third reliever the Cardinals used in the inning in an effort to keep it close. Tony Gwynn Jr. contributed a pinch-hit single and scored, making him 8 for 16 with five RBIs in that role.
Billingsley (5-9) allowed a run and four hits in six innings to win for the first time since June 10 at Seattle and end a skid that matched his career worst. In the five starts he made prior to going on the DL, the right-hander had a 6.21 ERA while allowing 41 hits in 29 innings.
The Dodgers trailed for the first time in four games during a 10-game trip after Jon Jay doubled for his fifth consecutive hit with one out in the first and scored on Lance Berkman’s two-out single. Jay also singled to start the eighth and scored on Beltran’s homer.
Beltran has 71 RBIs, tied with Arizona’s Jason Kubel for the NL lead.
NOTES: Cardinals 3B David Freese, who is 0 for 6 with six strikeouts against Billingsley, was not in the lineup. … The Dodgers have 14 homers in the last 18 games. … Kelly has two hits, both infield singles. He worked Billingsley for a 10-pitch at-bat but grounded out in the second.