Early missed opportunities doom Cardinals in Game 5 loss

Early missed opportunities doom Cardinals in Game 5 loss

Credit: Getty Images

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 16: Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals tells Matt Carpenter #13 to stay at third base in the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Five of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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by Scott Bierman / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on October 16, 2013 at 7:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 7:11 PM

(BaseballStL) -- By the time Zack Greinke threw his tenth pitch of the game, the Cardinals had the bases loaded. After he threw his 20th pitch, Greinke had escaped major damage by stranding the bases loaded.

It was sort of the early theme for St. Louis.

Singles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday sandwiched a four-pitch walk to Carlos Beltran to get St. Louis in prime position to give starter Joe Kelly an early cushion.

In stepped Matt Adams, who belted eight of his 17 home runs in September. But October continued to be a terrible month for the 6-foot-3, 260-pound slugger.

Adams worked the count to 2-1, but fouled a would-be ball and then whiffed on a 77-mph curveball for the first out of the first inning. It was his ninth strikeout in 16 at-bats in the NLCS.

Yadier Molina, who hit .373 with runners in scoring position during the regular season, also fell victim to Greinke’s nasty curveball as he grounded into a double play to third base. Juan Uribe stepped on third and threw to first as Adrian Gonzalez picked the wide throw in the dirt to finalize the double play and end the inning.

No runs allowed for Greinke.

“There was a little momentum going, no question, if we're able to plate one, a couple,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “Our guys have been so good all season long in that situation, but it does happen. They're not going to be 100 percent good. You do give credit when they're able to do those and turn them around. But it is a momentum shift, there is no question.”

Greinke’s manager, Don Mattingly, said his pitcher’s ability to avoid any runs crossing the plate in the first inning helped set the tone.

“Started and looked a little rough early there,” Mattingly said. “Carpenter went out there, Holliday's ball drops and it looks like we're in trouble. He gets a big punch out there and then gets Yadi to hit into the double play. Then the rest of the day kind of set the tone.”

The Dodgers would come back to score two runs in the second inning off Kelly for the lead.

But the top of the third inning brought more promise for the Cardinals after four consecutive hits, including a RBI triple from Beltran and RBI double by Holliday, tied the game 2-2 with one out.

With runners on the corners, that pesky double play would kill another rally. Greinke snared a Molina ground ball back to the mound to start the inning-ending double play.

It was the second double play through three innings that Molina hit into with a runner on third base.

Gonzalez added a solo home run in the bottom half of the third to retake the lead, and Carl Crawford smacked one of his own to add to it in the fifth, and A.J. Ellis followed suit with another in the seventh, and another Gonzalez solo shot in the eighth for a 6-2 lead.

There wasn’t many ‘late’ opportunities for the Cardinals as 16 batters were retired in consecutive fashion since Molina’s third inning double play until Yasiel Puig misplayed a fly ball by Holliday in the ninth.

Holliday then scored on a single by Adams. Molina’s rough day continued with a strikeout followed by a Jon Jay single to bring the tying run to the plate with one out. David Freese struck out. Pete Kozma hit a RBI single to make it 6-4, but Adron Chambers struck out looking to end the game and force a Game 6.

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