Momentum is a one-game deal in the playoffs, and as high as the Dodgers were feeling Monday, they were as low after Tuesday.
The Dodgers fell, 4-2, to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, leaving them down three games to one and without their offensive leader.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez tried to play for a second consecutive day with a broken rib, but this time the pain proved too great. He could not conceal the agony as he swung the bat. It was actually hard to watch.
Ramirez struck out in all three of his at-bats and was finally taken out of the game in the seventh. It’s not difficult to imagine he is done for the series.
The Dodgers could be done as soon as Wednesday afternoon’s Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. Zack Greinke will start for the Dodgers, opposite St. Louis’ Joe Kelly.
Manager Don Mattingly gave serious consideration to moving Greinke up and having him pitch Tuesday on short rest, but instead opted to go with Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco, skipped over in the division series, had not started a game since Sept. 25.
He did not pitch well, but neither was he horrible for a guy who had not started a game in three weeks. He lasted four innings, his one major error giving up a mammoth two-run homer to Matt Holliday in the third.
But the Dodgers could never really get their offense going against Lance Lynn and the St. Louis bullpen.
Yasiel Puig and A.J. Ellis singled in runs in the fourth, the only inning the Dodgers could score.
Here is an inning-by-inning recap of Game 4 of the NLCS:
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (final, end of ninth):
Closer Trevor Rosenthal took over in the ninth and immediately gave up a basehit to Andre Ethier.
Yet with the crowd on its feet, Rosenthal got Yasiel Puig to hit into a double play. Juan Uribe struck out, and the Dodgers were suddenly facing an elimination game.
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (middle of ninth):
Carlos Marmol came out again in the eighth, and after a leadoff walk, retired the next three Cardinals, the last two looking at third strikes.
Many in the sellout crowd of 53,992 have slipped out, knowing the Dodgers are now down to their final three outs.
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (end of eighth):
The Dodgers went weakly in the eighth, hard-throwing Carlos Martinez retiring retiring the Dodgers in order on three ground balls.
Due up in the ninth are Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe.
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (middle of eighth):
Ronald Belisario took over for the Dodgers in the eighth. He lasted three batters. He gave up a one-out single to Jon Jay and then hit Pete Kozma with a pitch.
That brought on Carlos Marmol for his first postseason appearance, and it was a good one.
Marmol struck out Daniel Descalso and got Shane Robinson to fly out to center.
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (end of seventh):
The innings are starting to get kind of ugly for the Dodgers now.
They got a one-out double from Nick Punto, just in for Hanley Ramirez, and he was promptly picked off second by reliever Carlos Martinez.
Carl Crawford then weakly bounced out to first, and the Dodgers were six outs away from being down 3-1 in the series.
Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2 (middle of seventh):
The Cardinals added to their lead, if from an unlikely source.
With left-hander J.P. Howell taking over to start the seventh for the Dodgers, The Cardinals pinch hit Shane Robinson. It was only his second at-bat of the series, but he made it memorable.
Robinson hit a drive to left and Carl Crawford kept backing up and backing up until he was at the wall. The ball landed on top of the outfield wall and bounced out for a solo homer.
Howell created a little more suspense when he gave up a two-out walk to Carlos Beltran and single to Matt Holliday, but struck out Matt Adams.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (end of sixth):
When this inning ended, Nick Punto came out defensively for the Dodgers. Hanley Ramirez was in obvious pain swinging the bat. He struck out in his three at-bats. Dodgers probably had to tell him to sit.
In the bottom of the sixth Dodgers got a one-out single from Yasiel Puig, and that ended the night for Lance Lynn. Seth Maneess was able to get Juan Uribe to hit sharply into an inning-ending double play.
Lynn allowed two runs on six hits and three walks, with five strikeout in his 5 1/3 innings.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (middle of sixth):
Chris Withrow keeps struggling, and keeps getting out of trouble.
This time he issued a one-out walk to Yadier Molina. On a hit-and-run, Jon Jay’s bat nipped the end of catcher A.J. Ellis’ mitt. Ellis was called for catcher’s interference, putting runners at first and second with no out.
Withrow then got the most timely double play of his young career, getting David Freese to hit a routine grounder to Juan Uribe at third.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (end of fifth):
The Dodgers got a leadoff single from Carl Crawford but never could advance him. Lance Lynn retired the next three Dodgers in order.
Hanley Ramirez struck out on three pitches and never swung the bat. You have to wonder if he’s in too much pain to wing anymore.
After coming out to take the field, he did take detour to talk to home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman, so presumably he was not happy about the calls.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (middle of fifth):
Chris Withrow had a rough inning, but managed to get out of it.
He walked the pitcher, Lance Lynn, with one out. Always a no-no. After Matt Carpenter lined out to left, Withrow threw a wild pitch to advance Lynn to second and then balked him to third. Then he walked Carlos Beltran to bring up Matt Holliday.
Not an ideal situation, but this time Holliday bounced into a fielder’s choice.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 2 (end of fourth):
Things got interesting in the bottom of the fourth.
Adrian Gonzalez led off with double, and undeterred by St. Louis criticism from the previous game, did his little explosion gesture with gusto, and pointed into the Dodgers dugout.
Andre Ethier drew a full-count walk to bring up Yasiel Puig. Lance Lynn’s first pitch was at his chin. Puig, the other Dodger the Cardinals were upset with Monday for being a tad too celebratory, gave Lynn a look but turned and walked away.
Lynn worked Puig to another full count before he hit a single past shortstop Daniel Descalso for a run-scoring single. At first, he pointed both hands to the sky.
Juan Uribe flied out to the warning track in right, Ethier tagging and taking third, before A.J. Ellis lined a single to center to score him.
Skip Schumaker hit for Nolasco, but bounced into an inning-ending double play.
In his four innings, Nolasco gave up three runs on three hits and a walk, with four strikeouts. Chris Withrow has taken over for the Dodgers to start the fifth.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 0 (middle of fourth):
Meanwhile, it was back to the Ricky Nolasco who looks crisp and ready to throw blanks.
Nolasco retired the Cardinals quickly in order in the fourth. Good Nolasco, bad Nolasco, good Nolasco.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers O (end of third):
The Dodgers looked almost stunned to be down three runs.
Then went down in order and Hanley Ramirez, in his second at-bat, still appeared to be in considerable pain. He struck out on a pitch in the dirt.
Cardinals 3, Dodgers 0 (middle of third):
A three-run lead feels huge in this series, and it’s what the Cardinals built in the third. Feels like 30-0.
Daniel Descalso led off the inning with a single and Lancy Lynn’s bunt sacrificed him to second. After Carlos Beltran bounced out sharply to second to move Descalso to third, Matt Carpenter doubled to left to score the game’s first run.
Matt Holliday, dubbed the key to the Cardinals offense, then destroyed the first pitch he saw, sending it an estimated 426 feet out to left in the Dodgers bullpen for a two-run homer.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of second):
Dodgers managed their first rally after Andre Ethier blooped a one-out single and Yasiel Puig drew his first walk of the postseason.
Juan Uribe his a soft liner to first, and then A.J. Ellis walked to load the bases with two outs.
Unfortunately, that brought up Ricky Nolasco, who was quickly called out on strikes.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of first):
The Cardinals got the first baserunner with a one-out walk to Yadier Molina, but Ricky Nolasco struck out Jon Jay and David Freese end end the threat.
Nolasco continues to look very sharp.
No balls were hit to Hanley Ramirez to test his sore left side. Ramirez doesn’t it feel the rib injury when he throws but when he reaches for a ball with his glove.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of first):
There was bad news for the Dodgers in the first, and it had little to do with Lance Lynn retiring them in order.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez was in obvious pain swinging the bat. Twice he walked away after a swing like someone had just stabbed him in the side. That cracked rib looks like it’s killing him.
He struck out and then slowly walked to his shortstop position. He’s moving slowly, but still out there for now.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of first):
That would qualify as a good beginning for Ricky Nolasco.
Nolasco, who last started a game three weeks ago, breezed through the Cardinals in the first, retiring them in order.
And he needed only six pitches. Guess the St. Louis plan isn’t to wear him down.
The Dodgers mulled and mulled whether to push Zack Greinke up and start him early Tuesday, before finally going with right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
That would be the Nolasco who hasn’t started since Sept. 25, and wasn’t exactly pitching at his best then. The dice are rolling.
If the Dodgers are going to continue to build off the momentum of Monday’s 3-0 victory, they will need a big outing from Nolasco Tuesday in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals.
They have their full lineup back, including Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier. The Cardinals had David Freese leave Monday’s game with a calf issue, but he is back in their lineup.
The Dodgers will have to go to historic levels if they’re to top the drama they managed on this day 25 years ago. When this guy hit a ninth-inning home run. Maybe you remember it. Kirk Gibson’s shot was voted the greatest sporting moment in Los Angeles history.
The Cardinals will send out right-hander Lance Lynn Tuesday, who brings out his own history, and it’s not good for the Dodgers. In 18 lifetime innings against the Dodgers, Lynn is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA.