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Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — Now it’s a series.
Staring at the possibility of the brink of desperation, the Dodgers got just what they needed through the arm of Hyun Jin Ryu, who seemed on a personal mission for redemption, and a lights-out bullpen.
Ryu scattered three hits over seven scoreless frames and the Dodgers outlasted the Cardinals 3-0 on Monday to cut St. Louis’ NLCS lead to 2-1.
The Dodgers were relying on some rare moments from their history repeating themselves. The club has come back from an 0-2 deficit three times in their postseason history.
None of them, however, have yet taken place during the NLCS.
Los Angeles will continue in their efforts to amend that fact in Game 4 on Tuesday.
Ramirez, broken ribs and all, was 2-for-4 in his return, and the game was ‘hit them, before they hit you’. Ramirez credited the training staff with his ability to play on Monday night.
“I got here early, I got all my treatment, those guys took care of me,” Ramirez said after the game.
In his first at-bat since Game 1, Ramirez, wrapped up and playing on medication, dropped a bloop-single into shallow center field, right in between John Jay and Matt Carpenter in the first inning. Adrian Gonzalez subsequently made contact on a 3-1 pitch that looked promising, but the ball hit about four inches above the handle of the bat, and floated harmlessly to Carpenter to end the inning.
The other injured Dodger, Andre Ethier, was visibly in more pain than his infield counterpart, according to his first at-bat, in which he could be seen limping and grimacing after grounding out in the second inning. He shared words with Mattingly in the dugout after the play, and came out to take the field in the third.
Hyun Jin Ryu scattered three hits over seven scoreless frames, striking out four batters. The rookie hurler retired more batters through the first three innings of Game 3 than he had against the Braves in the NLDS.
Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright was tough throughout the evening, giving up six hits through seven innings, striking out five Dodgers.
Mark Ellis represented the first runner in scoring position for either club in the fourth inning after knocking a fly ball into right-center field for a lead-off double. He advanced to third on a deep fly ball from Ramirez, and moments later, Gonzalez broke the 22-inning scoreless drought, which seemed so never-ending, with a double down the right field line, and Dodger Stadium was loud with energy for the first time in a week.
Riding that energy later in the inning was the Wild Horse himself, Yasiel Puig, who had finally shown up at the NLCS.
Puig smacked a rocket into right field with such power, such confidence, that he flipped his bat to admire it for a moment. Around first base, Puig realized the ball was not leaving the park, and he turned on the jets, reaching third on an RBI standup triple, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Ryu gave up his first hit in the fifth inning when David Freese and Matt Adams knocked back-to-back singles into right field, the first of which was almost caught by Puig on a diving attempt.
A poor base running decision by Daniel Descalso, who was pinch-running for Freese, resulted in a double play after he misread a fly ball to left field by Jay. Descalso took off for third on contact, and was doubled up at second after the catch. Freese had left the game with tightness in his right calf, heading to the dugout shortly after his single and walking into the clubhouse with Cardinals training staff.
“We got a little bit of a break there,” Mark Ellis said after the ball game. “He’s a good ball player, a smart ball player.”
Freese is considered day-to-day.
A.J. Ellis, who is not known for his speed, led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple after Jay was unable to snag a deep fly ball. The buzz didn’t last, as the Dodgers resurrected the frustrating habits of Games 1 and 2 after Ryu grounded to second, Crawford struck out swinging, and Mark Ellis grounded to short.
Ryu completed his gem in the seventh inning by striking out Adams with a high fastball. He threw 108 pitches.
Brian Wilson got the job done in the eighth, striking out two in a scoreless frame in which his 2-seam fastball was positively dangerous. After freezing Wong on the inside corner, Wilson went outside to retire Carpenter to end the inning.
The Dodgers ganged up on the Cardinals bullpen in the eighth, earning three consecutive singles, the third of which was an RBI infield single by Ramirez to tack on a third insurance run. The play at the plate was close, after Crawford seemed to stop momentarily at third base. He headed home and got his foot on the plate just as Molina turned to make an attempt.
The call was safe.
The Dodgers will hope to continue their rally behind the first postseason appearance of Ricky Nolasco and a lineup that, for the first time this series, has something brewing that looks, however distantly, like confidence.
That’s the first step.