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Cardinals Ride Late Home Runs and Strong Pitching to a 3-1 Win & Sweep of the Dodgers

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This is St. Louis’s first sweep of the Dodgers in Los Angeles since 2006. That was a good year.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Pitching in his old stomping grounds, Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty dazzled, firing five no-hit innings before Joc Pederson came through with a home run in the sixth. The Dodgers’ lead didn’t last, however; after Tyler O’Neill hit a pinch-hit home run in the top of the eighth inning to knot the ballgame at one run apiece, shortstop Paul DeJong blasted a two-run shot off closer Kenley Jansen in the ninth to lift St. Louis to a 3-1 win over the Dodgers.

With the victory, the Cardinals swept the three-game series over the Dodgers and are now an MLB-best 17-4 in August. A record of 71-57, the Cardinals sit just 2 12 games back of the Cubs in the National League Central division and hold the top Wild Card spot over the Brewers. With a 3-7 record dating back to August 12, the Dodgers sit 4 12 games back in the West and 3 12 out of a Wild Card spot.

Flaherty struck out 10 batters and walked a pair in his six-inning outing, with Pederson’s home run the only blemish of the evening for the St. Louis pitching staff. Brett Cecil pitched a scoreless seventh, his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance. Dakota Hudson followed suit in the eighth, and Jordan Hicks nailed things down in the ninth inning, fanning the side. Hudson improved to 4-0 and Hicks notched his fifth save.

O’Neill, pinch-hitting for Cecil in the top of the eighth, tied the game with a home run off Scott Alexander, who was charged with his third blown save. The Dodgers called upon Jansen in the ninth. With one out, third baseman Jedd Gyorko got his third hit of the ballgame and soon after rounded the bases on DeJong’s 14th homer of the season. Jansen suffered his second loss of the series on Wednesday after he got in trouble on Monday.

Lost in the late-pitching struggles of Wednesday’s contest is how well Dodgers starter Walker Buehler pitched. The 24-year-old Buehler logged seven scoreless innings and limited St. Louis to just three hits before giving way to the bullpen. Buehler fanned nine batters and walked two as he topped his career-high in pitches with 104, including 71 (68.3 percent) for strikes.

After a day off on Thursday, the Cardinals will begin a three-game series against the Rockies in Colorado. St. Louis will turn to Miles Mikolas for the opener on Friday night. The Dodgers open up three games with the Padres on Friday, while the Cubs start a four-game set with the Reds on Thursday, and the Brewers host the Pirates for three over the weekend.