It should be clear to the Dodgers by now, the only way they win a game in the National League Championship Series is if their starter throws a shutout.
After Zack Greinke struck out 10 and gave up only two runs in eight innings in the opener and lost, Clayton Kershaw pitched even better Saturday in Game 2.
The Cardinals scored an unearned run off Kershaw in the fifth inning and made it hold up for a 1-0 victory Saturday at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
Kershaw went seven brilliant innings, he and relievers Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell holding the Cardinals to only two hits.
A looping double by David Freese, an A.J. Ellis passed ball and a Jon Jay sacrifice fly in the fifth inning accounted for the entire day’s scoring.
The Dodgers could not score one lousy run against rookie Michael Wacha and four St. Louis relievers. The Dodgers went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and are now 1 for 16 in the NLCS.
The Dodgers played this one with shortstop Hanley Ramirez (ribs) and outfielder Andre Ethier (ankle) in the starting lineup, and their offense never could show any life.
The series now switches to Los Angeles for Game 3 on Monday, with St. Louis set to start ace Adam Wainwright against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Here is an inning-by-inning recap of the NLCS’s Game 2:
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (final, middle of ninth):
Closer Trevor Rosenthal wrapped it up for the Cardinals.
He struck out Yasiel Puig (his fourth in four at-bats), Juan Uribe and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier. The last five Dodgers struck out.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of eighth);
J.P. Howell continued the Dodgers’ strong pitching performance. Howell walked one, but held the Cardinals without a hit.
The Dodgers are in position to lose 1-0, despite allowing only two hits.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (middle of eighth):
Ex-Dodgers left-hander Randy Choate started the inning and induced Carl Crawford to foul out, and then the hard-throwing Carlos Martinez came on to strike out Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez.
St. Louis is making it look easy.
The Dodgers have struck out 10 times and are down to the final three outs.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of seventh):
Ronald Belisario came on in relief and retired the Cardinals in order.
The Dodgers are in position to lose 1-0 on an unearned run.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (middle of seventh):
Manager Don Mattingly seems unfazed by second-guessing, and has set himself up for more.
When Nick Punto singled with two outs in the top of the sixth, the Cardinals went to left-hander reliever Kevin Siegrist and Mattingly called on Michael Young to pinch hit for ... Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw has thrown only 72 pitches.
Siegrist threw a pair of wild pitches to advance Punto to third, but on a full count, Young flied out to right.
The Dodgers are six outs from a second consecutive frustrating loss.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of sixth):
Clayton Kershaw made quick work of the Cardinals in the sixth, retiring them in order. The good news is he’s thrown only 72 pitches through six.
The bad, of course, is the Cards’ Michael Wacha is matching him and has a 1-0 lead. Wach, though, has thrown 100 pitches in five innings.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (middle of sixth):
The Dodgers may never score again.
They wasted their biggest opportunity yet, and this one figures to hurt. And maybe for a long while.
Clayton Kershaw started the threat with a single. Carl Crawford followed with a bouncer that second baseman Matt Carpenter made a nice diving stop of, but then mistakenly threw to second. Kershaw was already there, the throw sailed into left for an error and the Dodgers ended up with Kershaw at third and Crawford at second and no outs.
Mark Ellis could not drive the run in, Michael Wacha getting him to pop up to second. The Cardinals then intentionally walked Adrian Gonzalez to load the bases with no outs.
And they still couldn’t score.
Wacha struck out Yasiel Puig for the third time, and then struck out Juan Uribe. Both third strikes looked low.
Thus far the Dodgers are 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position in the NLCS’s first two games.
Cardinals 1, Dodgers 0 (end of fifth):
And a passed ball is going to kill them?
Clayton Kershaw gave up a lead-off double to David Freese and then catcher A.J. Ellis simply did not catch a ball right over the plate to Mike Adams.
With Freese advancing to third, the Cardinals tried to squeeze him home but Jon Jay could not get the bunt down.
Then Jay lifted a fly to Carl Crawford in medium left field. Freese tagged and Crawford’s throw was late and about 20 feet up the first-base line. Not even remotely close.
The sun remains bright, but with nasty shadows they’ve turned the lights on a Busch Stadium.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of fifth):
Scoring opportunities are looking rare today. The Dodgers got one in the fifth when A.J. Ellis hit a two-out, ground-rule double but Nick Punto was caught looking at a third strike.
Through five innings right-hander Michael Wacha has allowed two hits, not walked a batter and struck out six.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of fourth):
If it’s not enough for the Cards that Clayton Kershaw is dealing and shadows are making it hard to see the ball, the Dodgers are turning in some nice defense.
Nick Punto, starting at shortstop for the injured Hanley Ramirez (ribs), started a nice double play after Kershaw gave up his first walk, and then Juan Uribe made another terrific stop of a Yadier Molina bouncer.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of fourth):
See previous inning: threee up, three down.
The shadows creeping across Busch Stadium aren’t helping the hitters from both teams, either.
Meanwhile, TBS has reported that shortstop Hanley Ramirez has left the ballpark to have his ribs X-rayed at a local hospital.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of third):
This game has been all pitching through three innings.
Since giving up a leadoff triple, Clayton Kershaw has retired nine consecutive batters. He has not walked a batter, while striking out two.
First team to make a mistake loses?
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of third):
Dodgers still aren’t hitting. Right-hander Michael Wacha retired the Dodgers in order again.
Since the single by Mark Ellis in the first, Wacha has retired eight consecutive Dodgers. He’s struck out three and has not walked a batter.
The Dodgers badly need to show some offensive life.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of second):
It’s looking like one of those games, a low-scoring, one-bad-mistake-kills-you games.
Clayton Kershaw retired the Cardinals in order and is looking very sharp. But then so is his counterpart, Michael Wacha. Each team has one hit.
The Dodgers need to put some pressure on Wacha to see how the rookie responds.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of second):
The Dodgers look like they’re letting rookie right-hander Michael Wacha settle in, and that’s not a good thing.
The 22-year-old, who appeared in only 15 games (nine starts) this season, retired the Dodgers in order in the second. He made it look easy.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (end of first):
Clayton Kershaw’s first pitch was lined into a triple by Matt Carpenter, who got an assist when Yasiel Puig tried one of his awkward slide stops and the ball squirted past him.
And then Kershaw showed why he’s Kershaw.
He popped up Carlos Beltran, struck out Matt Holliday and got Yadier Molina to ground out.
It was pretty impressive, and just maybe a lift the Dodgers could use with two stars out.
Dodgers 0, Cardinals 0 (middle of first):
The Dodgers got off to a bad start Saturday, and that was before Mark Ellis stumbled.
Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, their best hitter, was a late scratch because of bruised ribs. He was hit in the left ribs by a pitch Friday. Nick Punto started at shortstop. The Dodgers were already playing without Andre Ethier.
In the top of the first inning, Ellis lined a hit to left that should have been a double, but he stumbled after crossing first and had to hold up to a single. After Adrian Gonzalez struck out, Ellis stole second, but right-hander Michael Wacha came back to strike out the suddenly struggling Yasiel Puig. Now batting cleanup with Ramirez out.
There are no must-games when it’s only the second game of a seven-game series, but there are some you’d-better-win games.
The Dodgers opened the National League Championship Series with their two aces lined up, while Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright isn’t scheduled to start until Game 3.
The Dodgers can hardly afford to lose the first two games with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw starting, only to face Wainwright in the third game.
So after Friday’s epic 3-2 loss to the Cardinals in 13 innings, the Dodgers more than ever need Kershaw to step up big in this afternoon’s Game 2.
Of course, Greinke was huge in the opener and that didn’t work out so well.
As well as Kershaw has been pitching – and the troubles the Cardinals have against left-handers – he is anything but a lock today. Kershaw went 0-2 against St. Louis this season, allowing six runs in 13 innings.
In 12 lifetime starts against the Cardinals, Kershaw is 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA. Outside of Philadelphia (1-4), they are the only National League club he has a losing record against.