(BaseballStL) -- Dodgers ace and Game 6 starter Clayton Kershaw will likely be handed the Cy Young Award next month. As an early gift, the Cardinals put him in line for an ‘L’ after a four-run third inning Friday, and the Dodgers nearing a flight back to L.A..
Kershaw’s Game 6 joined the ranks of his previous three starts against St. Louis, all losses, including a 1-0 defeat in Game 2. The individual numbers were different, but none as bad as Game 6.
After the Cardinals failed to break through with runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings of Game 6, the club exploded for four runs, three of which with two outs, in the third.
"Clayton seemed like early, he was ok," said Dodger manager Don Mattingly. "Then after the Carpenter at-bat... I felt like that was just a trememndous at-bat."
Tremendous is a good descriptor. Matt Carpenter followed a ground out by Cardinal starter Michael Wacha with an 11-pitch duel against Kershaw. Carpenter saw six fastballs, a curveball, and three sliders before ripping the fourth for a double.
It sparked the rest of the offense, which scored only 12 runs through the first five games of the NLCS.
Carpenter scored when Carlos Beltran singled to right field. Beltran advanced on Yasiel Puig’s throw back to the infield, which would be costly. Matt Holliday struck out for the second out of the inning.
That’s when trouble really brewed for Kershaw and the Dodgers.
"From there it seemed like the flood gates opened," Mattingly said. "Just didn't seem to be able to stop the tide at that point."
Beltran scored off Yadier Molina’s single to center field as David Freese slapped a single back up the middle to move the Cardinals catcher into scoring position at second. Matt Adams walked to load the bases to bring Shane Robinson, who started in place of struggling center fielder Jon Jay, to the plate.
Robinson followed his single in the second inning with another single in the third to bring Molina and Freese home for a 4-0 lead. The play was aided by a fielding error from Puig as his throw from right sailed to the backstop.
Kershaw intentionally walked Pete Kozma to bring Wacha back to the plate. Kershaw eventually struck out Wacha on his 48th pitch thrown in the inning to end the third.
"[That] took a lot out him," the Dodger manager said. "That was a lot of pitches that inning."
The rough third inning sported a couple rare sights for Kershaw:
It was the first four-run inning off Kershaw since the Cardinals did it July 24, 2012 and the first time a team batted around against Kershaw since the Diamondbacks on August 14, 2009.
Kershaw settled down for a 10-pitch fourth inning, but trouble brewed again in the fifth inning.
In an onslaught that brought nine Cardinals to the plate, Kershaw faced only three and didn’t record a single out before his removal.
Molina smacked a single to right field, but for a second time in the game Puig committed an error. Unable to stop the ball cleanly, Puig’s mishap moved Molina to second base before Freese advanced him with a single to left.
Defying the heavy pull shift, the lefthanded-hitting Adams doubled to the left field corner to score Molina to make it a 5-0 St. Louis lead.
That ended Kershaw’s night as he left the game with runners on second and third base.
"[We were] trying to get him through one more, and it just wasn't there," Mattingly said.
The Cardinals would score one of the remaining runners, and add three more off relievers Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell to take a 9-0 lead after five innings.
Kershaw’s final line read: 4 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO (98 pitches / 61 strikes)
It wasn’t the start the Dodgers needed from the likely Cy Young winner.
Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL mobile app. You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman for news and notes.