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Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
CHAVEZ RAVINE (CBSLA.com) — It was exactly 25 years ago on Tuesday that Kirk Gibson limped up to the plate in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the 1988 World Series and knocked one of the all-time greatest moments of sports into the right field bleachers.
That was one of the loudest nights in Dodger Stadium’s history.
Tuesday marked some of the quietest stretches the historic ball park has seen in relation to a sellout crowd.
Five times the Dodgers have battled back from a 1-2 deficit in a League Championship Series to win the Pennant.
However, they have never come back from a 1-3 deficit in the post-season.
Ricky Nolasco was beaten up over four innings and the Dodgers again couldn’t capitalize on opportunities as they fell to the Cardinals 4-2 on in Game 4, falling behind 3-1 in the NLCS.
Leading the charge had been, and continues to be, the Dodgers on the mound. In fact, the 2013 Dodgers had held the Cardinals to the second lowest post-season series batting average in history (.134) going into Game 4, behind the 2010 Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS.
Nolasco, who last pitched on Sept. 29, would challenge that position.
Nolasco made it through only four innings, giving up three earned runs off three hits and a walk.
Daniel Descalso, who performed what proved to be a critical base-running error in Game 3, led off the third inning with a single to right. He was brought home on a double to left-center by Matt Carpenter to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead and their first run since Game 2 in St. Louis.
Nolasco’s rough inning wasn’t close to being over.
The 30-year old post-season first-timer left a fastball hanging which Matt Holliday absolutely crushed to left field for a titanic 2-run shot, giving him his 10th career postseason homer and giving the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
As quiet as the crowd was after Holliday’s shot, Adrian Gonzalez restored the volume at the ball park with a leadoff standup double to right field in the fourth. Despite”Mickey Mouse” celebration remarks from the Cardinals clubhouse, Gonzalez showed his well-known celebration at second base.
Following a walk to Andre Ethier, Lynn tried to brush Puig off the plate with a high fastball up and in. Puig just evaded the pitch, and fans all over the stadium were on the feet with boisterous boos, right before Puig turned to stare Lynn down for a number of seconds. Mattingly did a good job of getting Puig’s attention and could be seen gesturing for him to calm down.
It seems to have worked.
Puig ran a full count, and grounded the payoff pitch just out of the reach of Descalso at shortstop for an RBI single, scoring Gonzalez from second and cutting the deficit to 3-1.
A.J. Ellis then lined a fastball back up the middle into shallow center to score Ethier from third, and the score wad 3-2. The inning came to an end after Skip Schumaker, pinch hitting for Nolasco, grounded into a double play.
Ramirez, who had visibly grimaced after a big swing and a miss to end the first inning, was reportedly not feeling as well as he had been on Monday, and Mattingly suggested the Dodgers would use him as long as they were able. Ramirez was retired without a swing in the fifth inning, which represented his third strikeouts in as many at-bats at that time, even though the pitch-tracker showed his final two strikes were outside and off the plate. Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman earned an amount of criticism throughout the night due to an erratic strike zone, with players from both teams opened their opinions to him more than once.
Mattingly was trying, throughout the first half of the ball game, to get more input from Ramirez as to his ability to stay in the game, using more thumbs-up and thumbs-down than a Roman Caesar at the Coliseum.
Hanley would leave the game after the sixth inning, replaced by Nick Punto as he untucked his jersey, grabbed his gear, and headed into the tunnel towards the clubhouse.
There was a notable hush upon the crowd, and Dodger Stadium fell quiet.
If it was quiet at the ball park before, it fell near mute after Shane Robinson knocked a pinch-hit home run into left, extending the Cardinals lead to two runs. The ball stayed up just long enough to bounce off the top of the left field wall and into the bleachers.
It was the first post-season hit of his career.
The quietest part of the night, ironically, took part after Punto smacked a 1-out double over the head of John Jay in center in the seventh inning. Punto, leading off of second well more than he should have been, was picked off by Carlos Martinez. Just as quickly as momentum was restored, it again was depleted by a mental mistake. Crawford grounded to second to end the inning.
The deeper areas of the depth chart began taking the field, as Michael Young replaced Punto at shortstop and Carlos Marmol took over on the mound with one out in the eighth.
Fans headed for the exits after a quiet bottom half of the eighth, in which the Dodgers, again, went down 1-2-3.
The fans that did remain, however, revived enough energy into the ninth inning for Ethier who plant the makings of a rally.
Ethier led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right, and the crowd’s cheers of “Let’s Go Dodgers” were as loud as they had been in the fourth inning.
The energy reached the high-water mark when Yasiel Puig stepped up to the plate, representing the tying run — and it vanished when he grounded into a double play.
The play perfectly signified the theme of the Dodgers in Game 4 of the 2013 NLCS — the spark of hope, extinguished with the thoughts of what could have been.
The Dodgers have bout 15 hours to recover before a must-win Game 5 on Wednesday at 1 p.m.