Dodgers' bullpen folds, offense melts in 4-2 loss to the Cardinals

Dodgers' bullpen folds, offense melts in 4-2 loss to the Cardinals
Dodgers left fielder Andre Ethier (16) is tagged out by Cardinals catcher Tony Cruz while trying to score on a single to right field by Jimmy Rollins in the sixth inning Sunday night. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Apparently society's enlightened views on corporal punishment have failed to reach St. Louis, because the Cardinals just issued the Dodgers another spanking.

This time the Dodgers wasted a sterling effort by right-hander Zack Greinke, the bullpen -- helped along by Yasiel Puig misplaying a ball -- melting and surrendering a late one-run lead.


By the time it was over, the Cardinals had rallied with three eighth-inning runs to pull out a 4-2 victory over the frustrated Dodgers before a silenced Dodger Stadium crowd of 41,500 on Sunday.

The victory meant the Cardinals took three of four games from the Dodgers -- the first time the Dodgers have lost a home series since last August. The Dodgers are now 2-5 against St. Louis this season. This follows the Cardinals having bounced the Dodgers out of the postseason the last two years.

Everybody else looks at the Dodgers and sees all that marvelous talent. The Cardinals see easy pickings.

Greinke gave the Dodgers about all they could ask for, holding the Cardinals to one run and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

The only run he gave up came in the sixth inning when Jhonny Peralta hit a no-doubt home run into the left-field pavilion.

By then the Dodgers had already scored twice off Lance Lynn, once in the first on a single by Puig and a Justin Turner RBI double, Puig running hard to score from first.

They added a second run in the third when Greinke and Puig singled, and Turner -- batting cleanup -- drove a hit to center to score Greinke from second base.

But that was all the damage the Dodgers could manage against Lynn. Their offense, rolling along so merrily early this season, suddenly finds everything a struggle. Couple that with the bullpen's recent demise and losing happens.

The Dodgers have now scored two runs or less in 14 of their last 22 games.

The Cardinals' winning rally started in the eighth against Adam Liberatore when he walked leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. Manager Don Mattingly went to right-hander Juan Nicasio mostly because he had to go to someone.

Matt Holiday then poked a low, outside pitch down the right-field line. Puig charged but failed to bend over enough to field the ball and it squirted past him for a triple as Carpenter scored the tying run. Peralta lined a hit through a drawn-in infield to score pinch-runner Peter Bourjos with the go-ahead run. Mark Reynolds added an RBI double and St. Louis had its two-run lead.

The Dodgers currently have four relievers on the disabled list -- Joel Peralta, Paco Rodriguez, Pedro Baez and Brandon League -- and not much currently in the bullpen they can really count upon beyond closer Kenley Jansen and left-hander J.P. Howell.

Despite the loss, the Dodgers maintained their half-game lead in the National League West, the Giants having lost 6-4 to the Phillies.