(KIM JOHNSON FLODIN ~ Associated Press)
Adam Wainwright held the Dodgers to a run and three hits over eight innings Thursday, only to watch the Cardinals lose 3-2 after an error by left fielder Matt Holliday led to Los Angeles' two-run rally with two outs.
A night earlier, Chris Carpenter, who was 17-4 with a 2.24 ERA in the regular season, had an uncharacteristically wild outing, walking four and allowing four runs in five innings of a 5-3 loss.
"They have two great No. 1 pitchers, and that's probably why we were underdogs. But we never considered ourselves underdogs," said Mark Loretta, who singled home the winning run as a pinch hitter in the ninth against Ryan Franklin after going hitless in his 15 previous career at-bats against the All-Star closer.
The disappointing results send the Cardinals back to St. Louis down 2-0 in their best-of-five series. Game 3 is Saturday. The Dodgers have lost 14 of their last 17 games at Busch Stadium.
(MATT SAYLES ~ Associated Press)
Wainwright couldn't be blamed for the Cardinals' Game 2 loss. Other than a fourth-inning homer to Andre Ethier, the Cardinals' 19-game winner breezed through the Dodgers lineup until the eighth, when manager Tony La Russa let him work out of a bases loaded jam. He did just that, retiring Matt Kemp on a broken-bat grounder to first base.
"I could have gone four more innings," Wainwright said. "This is the playoffs, man. I'm not saving anything. I've got three months to take a break. But I'd thrown a lot of impact pitches in the eighth, intensity pitches. And anytime you go into the ninth with a lead with the closer that we have down there, you feel very comfortable."
Wainwright, the Cardinals closer in their 2006 World Series championship run, watched from the bench as Trever Miller got one out before turning it over to Franklin, who was 3 for 3 in save opportunities against Los Angeles this season.
Franklin got Manny Ramirez to fly out to center before getting James Loney to hit a liner to left that bounced off Holliday's midsection and set the comeback in motion.
"I didn't see the ball and it hit me in the stomach," said Holliday, who made only one error in 63 games after being acquired by St. Louis from Oakland. "I mean, obviously, I can catch a ball that's hit right at me. It's very difficult to swallow. We had a chance to win the game. It was unfortunate that it happened when it did."
Wainwright shared the blame with Holliday and Franklin for the loss.
"This is a team game. And no matter how you win or lose it, it's a team win or a team loss," Wainwright said. "There's a lot of different ways we could have won that game. We could have scored more runs. I could have not given up the home run. So I'm not going to put it all on the bullpen.
"I mean, that ball got lost in 50,000 white towels shaking in front of Matt's face. It doesn't really seem fair that an opposing team should be able to allow their fans to shake white towels when there's a white baseball flying through the air. How about Dodger Blue towels?"
The Cardinals' season now is in the hands of 15-game winner Joel Pineiro, who is having a revival after struggling the past few years. Pineiro held the Dodgers to a run in eight innings in his lone start against them this season.
"We've got a game on Saturday, and we've got a chance with Joel," Holliday said. "The Dodgers have a good lineup, and they're swinging the bats better after struggling a little bit at the end. But Joel is a groundball pitcher, and if his sinker's working, we'll have a good chance."
Pineiro will face Vicente Padilla, who is 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in eight games for the Dodgers after being cut by Texas.
"We have a tough task ahead of us, even though we're up 2-0," Loretta said. "I think we've got to approach Saturday as if we're down 0-2 and really get after it. We saw the Red Sox come back in '04 from a three-game deficit, so it has been done before."
Cardinals batters are going to have to find a way to produce against Dodgers pitching. Besides Holliday's solo homer and Colby Rasmus' RBI double against Clayton Kershaw, they did not come through. They had a runner at second base in four different innings against the lefty with less than one out, but couldn't score.
In Game 1, St. Louis stranded 14 baserunners and was 3 for 13 with men in scoring position.
"Right now we're feeling disappointed, but we're not discouraged. There's a big difference," La Russa said. "Right now, I think it's important to get upset about the game that got away. We did a lot to win that one, and you didn't win it."