(BaseballStL) --The St. Louis Cardinals had their chances to sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers and take over sole possession of first place in the NL Central Sunday night, but too many missed chances and a mental mistake by Trevor Rosenthal doomed them as they fell 4-3.
The Cards banged out seven hits and left five men on base, a couple in crucial situations late in the game. After Rosenthal drilled Ramirez and Gonzalez punished them with a single to take the lead, the life went out of the Cards who went queitly in the 9th.
They remained tied with Milwaukee heading into an off day on Monday and a short two-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays beginning Tuesday.
Trevor Rosenthal surrendered a long lead-off double to AJ Ellis but then settled down and was one strike away from ending the threat when he drilled Hanley Ramirez. Adrian Gonzalez made him pay with a single, chasing home pinch runner Miguel Rojas to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the 9th.
Light-hitting Peter Bourjos rewarded manager Mike Matheny's decision to start him in centerfield yet again in the 8th inning as he singled, stole second and third. But the Cards could not push him across and it's 3-3 heading into the 9th.
Seth Maness is a machine for the Cardinals, facing four hitters and getting five outs. Cards have 6 outs left to push over a run and sweep the Dodgers.
The most important inning in Shelby Miller's season may have been the top of the 7th Sunday night. His teammates had just tied the Dodgers on a homer by Peter Bourjos and Miller needed a shutdown inning. But a lead-off double by Dee Gordon and a walk to Hanley Ramirez ended Miller's night. Randy Choate got an out and Set Maness threw one pitch for a double play, ending the threat.
Light-hitting Peter Bourjos jacked a Clayton Kershaw pitch 406 feet after Matt Carpenter worked a walk and the Cardinals have tied the Dodgers 3-3. Carpenter, down 0-2, battled for 10 pitches to earn the free pass before Bourjos sent a homer deep into the left field seats. Jhonny Peralta singled but the Cards couldn't move him around. 3-3 with three innings to play.
Kershaw continues to dominate Cards' hitters on three hits. Shelby Miller replaces Jason Motte who took over from Carlos Martinez. Still 3-1 Dodgers.
Clayton Kershaw wasted no time retaliating for the drilling of Hanley Ramirez an inning earlier. He hit Matt Holliday near the midsection and both benches were warned. Holliday was clearly unhappy and tried to take out Ramirez hard on the ensuing double play. No more action and the score remains 3-1 heading to the 5th.
After a 97 mph fastball plunked Hanley Ramirez to load the bases after a couple of hits, Martinez settled down long enough to retire Adrian Gonzalez on a routine fly ball. Martinez would appear to be on a very short leash from now on.
Very quiet Cardinal inning as all three hitters are down on strikes. 3-1 and off to the 4th.
Martinez lost command and walked two hitters in the top of the third, including lead-off man and pitcher Clayton Kershaw. Centerfielder Peter Bourjos made a sprinting catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez to temporarily keep the Dodgers in check. But Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier each singled, driving in a run each to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.
Allen Craig ripped a shot to the gap in left center, scoring Jhonny Peralta from first base and the Redbirds have tied to ball game 1-1. Peralta reached on an infield hit and after Matt Adams fanned, Kershaw laid one in to Craig who did not miss it. Unfortunately, the Cards could not do any more damage. 1-1 after two innings.
Carlos Martinez slumped nearly to the ground when Andre Ethioer unloaded a bomb that hit halfway up the right centerfield wall. Ethier scored on a parachute single in front of the hard-charging Allen Craig to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the second.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny assured the media that he did not let last week's horrendous outing against Milwaukee go unaddressed. He said he stressed with Carlos Martinez the importance of consistent execution of pitches.
Martinez appeared to fully grasp his skipper's message. Gone was the 8-inch high Mohawk haircut and the pre-game hyperactivity. In evidence was a consistent, measured approach to pitching as he shut down the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the first inning.