Dodgers hold off Cardinals in Game 1
Scoring early against St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter gave the Los Angeles Dodgers the shot of confidence they needed. Then their bullpen came in and closed out the Cardinals.
Randy Wolf survived a shaky first inning before five relievers combined to give up one run in the Dodgers' 5-3 victory on Wednesday night in an NL playoff opener full of missed chances for both teams.
"A lot of people believe they have one of the best bullpens in baseball," St. Louis right fielder Ryan Ludwick said. "They kind of shut us down. They shut the door."
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Pitching in the playoffs for the first time in his 11-year career, Wolf lasted 3 2-3 innings against Carpenter, who came in with a career 5-1 record and 2.53 ERA in the postseason.
Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer off Carpenter in the first inning, giving the NL West champions the lead for good.
"It was a little sinker down the middle," Kemp said. "We haven't done too well against him, but we came tonight with the confidence. We were trying to make him battle and got him out pretty early and got to the bullpen."
Wolf was the Dodgers' most consistent starter this season, with a 2.98 ERA in the second half and just one loss since Aug. 1 for his hometown team. Against the Cardinals, the left-hander from the San Fernando Valley allowed two runs and six hits, walked five and struck out two.
Jeff Weaver, who relieved Wolf, got the victory, allowing one hit in 1 1-3 innings and striking out one. Jonathan Broxton pitched 1 1-3 innings to earn the save.
"It's huge," Weaver said about beating Carpenter, "especially at home against a guy who can shut things down. We were able to push a couple more runs across, and our bullpen did what it's done all year."
The teams set a division series record by stranding a combined 30 runners. The Dodgers left 16, including 12 in scoring position.
"We had too many chances, too many chances," said Mark DeRosa, who left two runners on base in the third inning. "Their bullpen came in, and inning after inning, we didn't get the big hit we needed."
Offense was at a premium for both teams' sluggers. The Dodgers' Manny Ramirez went 1 for 4 with double and a walk, while Albert Pujols was 0 for 3 with two intentional walks for the NL Central champions.
"In the playoffs, everything's different, so we're just happy that we got the win," Ramirez said. "But remember, tomorrow's another day, so let's see what happens. We still got two more to go."
Game 2 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with Clayton Kershaw, another playoff rookie, starting for Los Angeles against 19-game winner Adam Wainwright. Only once this season when Carpenter and Wainwright started back-to-back did St. Louis lose both games.