|5:15 PM PT6:15 PM MT7:15 PM CT8:15 PM ET20:15 ET0:15 GMT8:15 5:15 PM MST7:15 PM EST7:45 PM VEN4:15 UAE (+1)7:15 PM CT, September 14, 2018
Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri Attendance: 46,036
Cardinals, Dodgers battling for wild-card spot
Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals
- The Dodgers managed just one win in Cincinnati, leaving them 1.5 games back of Colorado in the NL West. Los Angeles has the best run differential in the NL having scored 133 more than their opponents. Since 1995, only the 1999 Reds have had a higher run differential and not made the NL playoffs.
- Yasiel Puig racked up three hits, including a double, and two runs scored in Wednesday's win over the Reds. Since joining the team in 2013, the Dodgers are 37-6 (.860) when Puig records three or more hits, the second-best mark of any active player with 30 or more games over that span (1st: Zobrist -- 50-8).
- The Cardinals took two of three from the Pirates to keep pace with Milwaukee whom they trail by 2.5 games for home-field advantage in the Wild Card game. St. Louis has done most of its damage early in games, outscoring its opponents by 113 runs in innings one through four.
- Marcell Ozuna has hit safely in 21 of his last 25 games, dating back to August 6. Over that time, he and Justin Turner are two of only five National Leaguers with 100 plate appearances to post a .300-plus batting average and a .600-plus slugging percentage (Goldschmidt; Acuna, Jr.; and Zimmerman).
- Clayton Kershaw has recorded a quality start in each of his last 12 appearances, the second-longest active streak in baseball behind Jacob deGrom's 21 straight. For his career, Kershaw has tallied a quality start in 73.4 percent of starts, the best mark of any pitcher with 200 starts in the live-ball era.
- Entering this four-game series, the Dodgers trail the Cardinals by two games in the race for the second NL Wild Card spot. St. Louis has won the last five games in this series, including a sweep at Dodger Stadium in mid-August which saw the Cards tag Kenley Jansen with two ninth-inning losses.
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- Brewers rally by Cards, trim gap on Cubs
- Giants fire GM Evans after four seasons
- Gregorius hopes to return this week
Friday night's game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium should be sponsored by the letter K, because there figures to be more than a few strikeouts.
If young right-handers Walker Buehler of the Dodgers and Jack Flaherty of the Cardinals pitch on Friday as they did Aug. 22 when they faced each other at Chavez Ravine, runs and solid contact might be at a premium in a game dripping with pennant-race pressure.
Buehler (6-5, 3.09 ERA) fired seven shutout innings in that game against the Cardinals last month, permitting just three hits and two walks while whiffing nine. Flaherty (8-6, 2.92) owned a no-hitter until Joc Pederson cracked a solo homer with one out in the bottom of the sixth. It was the only hit Flaherty, who walked two and fanned 10, allowed in six innings.
Los Angeles' bullpen gave it up in the last two innings that night. Tyler O'Neill clouted a pinch-homer off Scott Alexander in the eighth and Paul DeJong drilled a tie-breaking two-run shot off Kenley Jansen in the ninth to give St. Louis a 3-1 win that polished off a series sweep.
The Cardinals (81-66) lead the Dodgers (80-67) by one game in the race for the National League's second wild-card spot, thanks to Los Angeles' 9-7 win Thursday night. The Dodgers led wire-to-wire, including 8-1 at one point, yet couldn't really exhale until Matt Adams grounded out to first as the potential tying run to end the game.
Manny Machado starred for Los Angeles with three hits, including a double and his 34th homer of the year in the seventh inning.
"I just tried to go up there and be myself, have quality at-bats," Machado said to Sportsnet LA. "Every out, every pitch from now on counts. One play can turn things around, so we have to be on top of it. We did everything we needed to do today."
The Dodgers, who at times have experienced terrible difficulties hitting with runners in scoring position over the last month, set the game's tone with a great at-bat in that situation in the first inning. David Freese taxed rookie left-hander Austin Gomber for 14 pitches, fouling off nine of them, before lacing a two-run triple down the left-field line.
Freese, who gets cheered during every at-bat in St. Louis because he was the 2011 World Series Most Valuable Player for the Cardinals, was acquired just before the Aug. 31 waiver deadline from Pittsburgh.
"It's always great coming back here and seeing the fans," Freese said. "I'm excited to be a part of this. I'm on the back end of my career, sitting at 35 years old."
One of Freese's former Cardinals teammates made his way back into the lineup Thursday night for this big series. All-Star catcher Yadier Molina (hamstring) missed six games, and probably isn't 100 percent, but St. Louis wanted him back in there.
The Cardinals plan for him to catch every game in the series except for Saturday, which is a 12:05 p.m. start after the Friday night game.
"He's very confident he can regulate himself in what he's doing so not to have a setback, which we clearly don't need," St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said of Molina.
Updated September 14, 2018