Kenley Jansen had waited 11 days for this moment, slogging through an excruciating stint on the disabled list because of a heart issue while his fellow relievers stumbled without him. His much-heralded return on Monday night was not what he or the Dodgers envisioned.
The closer took over in the ninth inning of a tie game and gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced, Jedd Gyorko driving a shot to left-center and Matt Carpenter hitting his National League-leading 34th homer to center to lift the St. Louis Cardinals to a 5-3 victory before 42,404 in Dodger Stadium.
Jansen struck out two of the next four batters, but the damage was done. Closer Bud Norris threw a scoreless ninth for his 25th save, striking out Max Muncy during an 11-pitch at-bat for the first out, to help the Cardinals win for the 11th time in 13 games. The Dodgers fell 2½ games behind National League West co-leaders Colorado and Arizona.
The Dodgers had rallied from a 3-0 deficit with two runs in the fifth inning and one in the seventh, Muncy slapping a 103-mph full-count fastball from 21-year-old right-hander Jordan Hicks to left field for a pinch-hit, two-out RBI single that tied the score 3-3.
Kenta Maeda struck out four in two scoreless relief innings, and the Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the eighth when Yasiel Puig beat out a dribbler to the left side for an infield single.
After Brian Dozier struck out, Puig took second and third on a Hicks wild pitch that bounced straight into the air and to the backstop. Hicks struck out Justin Turner with a slider and, after Manny Machado was intentionally walked, left-hander Brett Cecil struck out Cody Bellinger to end the inning.
Dodgers starter Alex Wood was punished for a first-inning mistake, the left-hander grooving an 88-mph fastball to Jose Martinez, who lined a solo home run—his 15th of the season—into the left-field pavilion for a 1-0 Cardinals lead.
Wood escaped a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fourth when he struck out opposing pitcher Austin Gomber with a sharp curve. He was pulled in the fifth after Carpenter’s leadoff double, Martinez’s RBI single that pushed St. Louis’ lead to 2-0 and Paul DeJong’s walk.
Reliever J.T. Chargois got ahead of Marcell Ozuna with two swinging strikes before throwing four straight balls to load the bases with no outs. The right-hander was pulled because of neck discomfort. Right-hander Pedro Baez came in to inherit the mess.
Baez started Patrick Wisdom with two strikes. Then he threw four straight balls for a walk that forced home Martinez for a 3-0 lead. Baez kept the deficit at three by striking out Harrison Bader, getting Kolten Wong to pop out to first and striking out Francisco Pena looking at a 98-mph fastball.
The Dodgers, who failed to score off Gomber after loading the bases with no outs in the first, seemed inspired by the reprieve. Dozier walked off the rookie left-hander to open the bottom of the fifth, took third on Turner’s double to right-center and scored on Machado’s RBI single to center.
Bellinger followed with a sacrifice fly to left that pulled the Dodgers to within 3-2, Machado taking second when Ozuna’s throw home missed the cutoff man. Kemp struck out, and Hernandez shot a grounder past the mound that appeared headed to center field.
But DeJong, the Cardinals shortstop, smothered the ball with a diving stop and, from one knee, made a one-hop throw to first base in time to get Hernandez, ending the inning and preventing the tying run from scoring.
To make room for Jansen, the Dodgers placed left-hander Zac Rosscup on the disabled list because of a left calf strain. Rosscup threw nine strikes while retiring the side in order—the 93rd “immaculate inning” in baseball history—in Sunday’s 12-1 victory at Seattle.
“I’ve never done that before,” said Rosscup, who struck out Kyle Seager, Ryon Healy and Cameron Maybin swinging. “I had a three-pitch inning once in rookie ball, but it didn’t count because the game got rained out in the fourth inning.”
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