Cardinals Top Dodgers 5-2 in Extras to Salvage Series Split

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 16: Allen Craif #21 of the St Louis Cardinals hits an RBI double in the first nning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 16, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

After a four-game series in Los Angeles that was billed for its postseason implications, the National League Wild Card standings are the same today was they were on Thursday for the Cardinals and Dodgers. Thanks to a strong effort from their pitching staff, the Cardinals were able to defeat the Dodgers 5-2 in extra innings. The victory allowed St. Louis to manage a split of the four-game series and to leave town with a one-game lead for the second Wild Card play-in berth.

Starter Adam Wainwright threw six strong innings, allowing five hits and two walks along with four strikeouts. The Dodgers plated two runs on the righty when Andre Ethier swatted a two-run homer in the bottom of the third that tied the game 2-2. The Dodgers would not score again in the twelve-inning game.

Wainwright was replaced by fireballer Trevor Rosenthal in the seventh inning. The rookie threw two innings and notched four strikeouts. Fernando Salas then came on for the ninth and tenth innings. The former closer didn't allow a run despite issuing two walks and allowing a hit while striking out no Dodgers. After Salas, manager Mike Matheny turned to September callup Shelby Miller. The former first-rounder gave up a hit, struck out one, and allowed no runs in his inning of work. Less than 24 hours after blowing a save opportunity and earning a pitching "loss," Jason Motte came on to earn his 35th save on the season.

The pitchers totaled .656 WPA to the hitter's .156 WPA.

The Cardinals batters bounced back quickly after Saturday night's heartbreaking loss. In the first inning, Allen Craig doubled home the game's first run in the first inning, a hit that saw Matt Holliday wind up on third base. During the ensuring plate appearance of Yadier Molina, Holliday scored on a wild pitch by L.A. starter Stephen Fife. With two runners on, David Freese and Skip Schumaker struck out, allowing the rookie to escape further damage. The Cardinals would not score again until the twelfth inning.

Matt Carpenter led off the twelfth by working a walk against John Ely, the ninth pitcher sent to the mound by manager Don Mattingly. Pete Kozma laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced Carpenter to second. Daniel Descalso then struck out for the inning's second out. Jon Jay rapped a double to right that plated Carpenter and gave the Cards a one-run lead. Ely intentionally walked Carlos Beltran to get to Matt Holliday, who Ely then hit by a pitch.

With the bases loaded, Craig scalded a grounder up the middle that might have ended the inning, but Holliday's hustle allowed him to beat the flip from Hanely Ramirez to Nick Punto. This crucial hustle play allowed a second run to score and the inning to continue. Molina then earned the unconventional RBI by working a walk. With the score 5-2, pinch hitter Steven Hill flew out to end the top of the twelfth.

With the win, the Cardinals reclaim sole possession of the second National League Wild Card spot. The club has an off-day on Monday as it travels from Los Angeles back home to St. Louis for a series with the Astros, a team that was the league's doormat but has played a spoiler of late. Just this weekend, they took three of four from the Phillies, who were surging before entering Minute Maid Park.

Commissioner Bud Selig's Wild Card expansion is working brilliantly. While the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Pirates have slumped, the Brewers and Phillies have surged. Milwaukee has leapfrogged Pittsburgh in the Wild Card standings, and are now just 2 1/2 games back of St. Louis. Despite their recent cold streak, the Pirates are only three games back. The Phillies are four and the Diamondbacks are 4 1/2 games back. It's anyone's berth.

Club

Wins

Losses

Winning %

GB of 2nd

Homefield GB

Last 10

Streak

Braves

83

63

.568

--

--

7-3

W2

Cardinals

77

70

.524

--

6.5

3-7

W1

Dodgers

76

71

.517

1.0

7.5

3-7

L1

Brewers

74

72

.507

2.5

9.0

7-3

W2

Pirates

73

72

.503

3.0

9.5

2-8

L1

Phillies

73

74

.497

4.0

10.5

7-3

L2

D-Backs

72

74

.493

4.5

11.0

6-4

W1


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