LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers had the St. Louis Cardinals in their ballpark for four days. All they have to show for it is a split, which leaves them in the same position they were in when the defending World Series champions came to Los Angeles – a game behind St. Louis for the second National League wild-card berth.
John Ely, the ninth of a franchise-record 10 pitchers Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used in Sunday’s 12-inning, 5-2 loss, gave up a go-ahead RBI double to Jon Jay, a run-scoring groundout by Allen Craig and a bases-loaded walk to Yadier Molina after both bullpens battled on even terms from the seventh through 11th innings.
Ely (0-2) has allowed six runs, six hits and four walks in 2 2/3 innings since he was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque when the rosters were expanded on Sept. 1.
“They are all tough at this point,” Mattingly said. “We talk about playoff-style baseball. Momentum scrambles every day with the playoffs. If you win, you’re feeling good. If you lose, it drops you because every game is important. You wake up and go again.”
The Dodgers and Cardinals both have 15 games remaining to settle the wild-card battle. St. Louis’ next nine games are against the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, who are a combined 81 games under .500. Los Angeles embarks on a nine-game trip against East-leading Washington, Central-leading Cincinnati and San Diego before ending the regular season with a six-game homestand against Colorado and West-leading San Francisco.
“We’ve really been a pretty good road club until that last trip, and we’re going to have our hands full again,” Mattingly said.
The Dodgers won six of the 11 meetings with St. Louis and have beaten the Cardinals in consecutive season series for the first time since 1995-96. In case of a tie for the wild card, the Dodgers would get home-field advantage in a one-game playoff.
Los Angeles wasted a leadoff double in the sixth inning by Matt Kemp, who flied out to center field against Fernando Salas with the bases loaded to end the 10th after the right-hander intentionally walked Andre Ethier.
Ethier tied the score at 2 in the third with his 19th homer.
Stephen Fife, making his fourth major league start and first since Aug. 1 in place of injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, recorded his first six outs on strikeouts. But between the first and second ones, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead as Craig hit an RBI double and Matt Holliday scored on a wild pitch to Molina.