LOS ANGELES – Matt Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals won a slugfest no one saw coming.
Carpenter hit a go-ahead, three-run double off a wilting Clayton Kershaw in an eight-run seventh inning, and the Cardinals rallied for a 10-9 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a fiery N.L. Division Series opener Friday.
“It makes it more fun when you’re playing against somebody that is known as being the best pitcher in the game,” Carpenter said. “When I get in those at-bats versus him I just try to fight. He’s coming right after me, seems like every time I face him I’m down 0-2 and I got to fight my way back.”
Former Gonzaga University pitcher Marco Gonzales got the victory with one scoreless inning of relief.
St. Louis overcame a five-run deficit against Kershaw and held on when Trevor Rosenthal blew a 100-mph fastball past Yasiel Puig with a runner on third to end a back-and-forth game that lasted nearly four hours.
“I’m sure everybody in baseball was expecting a one-run game,” Carpenter said. “We ended up getting one, but we didn’t think it would be 10-9.”
In a matchup of 20-game winners, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright hit Puig with a pitch leading off the third, triggering a bench-clearing scrum. There was shoving and shouting, but no punches.
Wainwright succumbed first on the mound, allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. But Kershaw failed once again in the postseason.
The left-hander whose 1.77 ERA led the major leagues for the fourth consecutive year came in eager to erase the memory of his poor showing in Game 6 of last year’s N.L. Championship Series, when the Dodgers were eliminated by the Cardinals.
And Kershaw dominated through the first six innings, retiring 16 in a row between homers by Randal Grichuk and Carpenter.
But he collapsed in a shaky seventh, when he gave up five of the Cardinals’ eight runs and became the first pitcher in postseason history to allow seven runs in consecutive starts. He yielded that many in losing Game 6 last year.
The Dodgers rallied again in the ninth, pulling to 10-9 after Dee Gordon’s RBI groundout scored A.J. Ellis, who singled. But Puig struck out swinging against Rosenthal, who reached 100 mph on five of the seven pitches in the at-bat.
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