Los Angeles at St. Louis

Scoreboard
L.A. Dodgers (3-0) «1021001005120
St. Louis (0-3)000000010161

Padilla, Ethier lead Dodgers to sweep of Cardinals, another NLCS

CBSSports.com wire reports
  •  

ST. LOUIS -- Unemployed in August and a star for the Los Angeles Dodgers in October. Once Vicente Padilla got out of the first inning, he slammed the door on the St. Louis Cardinals' season.

The second-chance pitcher kept Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday quiet in a 5-1 victory Saturday night that gave Los Angeles a second straight trip to the National League Championship Series.

"Anytime you win a series it's good," Casey Blake said. "But to sweep the Cardinals, it just doesn't happen. I would have never guessed we would have swept them."

The Dodgers got their sweep in a series that will be remembered most for Holliday's pivotal dropped fly ball with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 2.

Andre Ethier missed the cycle by a single, Manny Ramirez had three hits and two RBI and the Dodgers didn't need another St. Louis fielding blunder to sweep their Division Series opponent for a second straight season. Los Angeles scored all five runs with two outs.

Closer Jonathan Broxton struck out Rick Ankiel for the last out and pumped his fist as the Dodgers ran out to the mound to celebrate becoming the first team to advance to the Championship Series. They await the winner of the Philadelpia-Colorado series that is even at a game apiece. The Phillies beat Los Angeles in the NLSC last season in five games.

Pujols and Holliday were a combined 2 for 8 with a late RBI for the Cardinals, who never recharged after becoming the first National League team to clinch a division title. Counting the postseason St. Louis was 1-9 after wrapping up the NL Central, and was swept for the first time in the Division Series or NLCS play and only for the third time overall in the postseason.

This team and the 1928 team that got swept in the World Series by the Yankees are the only teams in franchise history to fail to win a game in the postseason.

"It's hard to believe we're thinking about next year," Ryan Ludwick said. "It just seems a long way away."

Pujols, 3 for 10 with an RBI and no extra-base hits in the series, left Busch Stadium without speaking to reporters. Holliday was 2 for 12 with a solo homer.

"For some reason, our offense, we couldn't get anything going," Holliday said. "We had some good at-bats here or there but as far as stringing anything together we had a hard time."

Padilla, designated for assignment by the Rangers in early August, was 4-0 the final month with the Dodgers before shutting down the Cardinals on four hits over seven innings in his first career postseason appearance. After escaping a bases-loaded jam in the first inning he was dominant, retiring 19 of 21 hitters against a team he last faced in 2003.

"Big lineup," Padilla said through an interpreter. "I just tried to make the pitches that I knew I was capable of throwing."

The Dodgers were already up 3-0 in the third inning when starter Joel Pineiro dropped Pujols' simple toss at first for an error on James Loney's grounder for the lifeless Cardinals, who were beset by bad play this series.

Holliday got a standing ovation from a sellout crowd of 47,296 before his first at-bat with two men on and one out in the first. Then he tapped out to the mound. Pfft.

Over and over, he said he was touched by the ovation. Even if it was a recruiting pitch for a player headed for free agency.

"Whatever it was, I'm appreciative of it," Holliday said. "Obviously that was a hard pill for me to swallow, that ball. To get that kind of acknowledgement, I'm very appreciative."

Ramirez, only 1 for 8 the first two games amid suggestions by manager Joe Torre that he was trying too hard, gave the Dodgers the early lead with a two-out RBI double in the first.

"I was just trying to be more aggressive," Ramirez said. "Anything on the plate, I was ready for."

Ethier, who had only one homer in the last 12 games of the regular season, jumped on a 3-1 pitch for a two-run shot that made it 3-0 in the third. It was his second homer of the series.

"To show up now and contribute and be a main guy, it's nice to come through," Ethier said.

Ronnie Belliard singled to start the fourth, stole second and scored on Rafael Furcal's single for a 4-0 cushion.

That was more than enough for the Dodgers, who were 2-5 against the Cardinals during the regular season with all the games between mid-July and mid-August when St. Louis was its best.

Joel Pineiro, a 15-game winner and the last of the Cardinals' big three starters to come up empty, allowed four runs in four innings in an outing that matched his shortest of the season. The sinkerball specialist allowed only 11 homers in the regular season, but surrendered five in his last three starts.

The Cardinals' demise, though, was due to the failure of an offense beefed up with the acquisitions of Holliday, Mark DeRosa and Julio Lugo since late June. St. Louis was 4 for 30 (.133) with runners in scoring position against an underrated Dodgers pitching staff, totaling six runs and stranding 28 runners.

One of them, Yadier Molina, doubled with one out in the seventh and than ran into an easy out on a groundball in front of him.

Furcal, the Dodgers' leadoff man, had two hits and was 7 for 12 in the series with two RBI. Ethier was 6 for 12 with three RBI after getting no RBI in his first 37 career postseason at-bats.

John Smoltz struck out five in two innings. The Cardinals finally broke through on Pujols' run-scoring single off Broxton in the eighth.

The Cardinals totaled three or fewer runs in 18 of their last 33 games. They fell to 6-2 in division series in 14 seasons under manager Tony La Russa.

"I've ended playoffs 14 times this way," Smoltz said. "It's never easy. You always think you're going to win the next game."

Notes

  • Matt Morris, who pitched for five Cardinals postseason teams, threw out the ceremonial first pitch with Chris Carpenter on the receiving end.
  • Attendance of 47,296 was the largest at 4-year-old Busch Stadium.
  • Cardinals 3B DeRosa played for the Cubs last year and has been on the wrong end of Dodgers first-round sweeps the last two years.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Los Angeles

A. Ethier
AB 5
R 2
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
Los Angeles

V. Padilla
IP 7.0
H 4
ER 0
BB 1
K 4
 

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Los Angeles Dodgers
Rafael Furcal, SS5121010 .500
Matt Kemp, CF5110042 .143
Andre Ethier, RF5232011 .500
Manny Ramirez, LF5032011 .308
    Juan Pierre, LF0000000 .000
James Loney, 1B4010001 .250
Casey Blake, 3B4010014 .273
Ronnie Belliard, 2B4110011 .273
    Orlando Hudson, 2B0000000 .000
Russell Martin, C4000011 .111
Vicente Padilla, P3000012 .000
   a- Jim Thome, PH1000000 .000
    George Sherrill, P0000000 .000
    Jonathan Broxton, P0000000 .000
Totals405125011  
a-grounded out for Padilla in the 8th
Batting
2B - Andre Ethier (2, Franklin), Manny Ramirez 2 (3, Pineiro, Pineiro)
3B - Andre Ethier (1, Smoltz)
HR - Andre Ethier (2, Pineiro)
RBI - Rafael Furcal (2), Andre Ethier 2 (3), Manny Ramirez 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Rafael Furcal (1), Andre Ethier 2 (3), Manny Ramirez 2 (2)
Team LOB - 8
Los Angeles Dodgers
Vicente Padilla (W,1-0) 7400140 0.00
George Sherrill 0.2011100 3.86
Jonathan Broxton 1.1200020 2.45
Pitches-Strikes - Vicente Padilla 97-69, George Sherrill 11-6, Jonathan Broxton 21-19
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Vicente Padilla 10-7, Jonathan Broxton 1-1
Batters Faced - Vicente Padilla 26, George Sherrill 3, Jonathan Broxton 6
St. Louis Cardinals
Skip Schumaker, 2B3000000 .333
   a- Julio Lugo, PH-2B0100100 .400
Ryan Ludwick, RF4010001 .333
Albert Pujols, 1B4021010 .300
Matt Holliday, LF4000001 .167
Colby Rasmus, CF3010110 .444
Yadier Molina, C4020004 .308
Mark DeRosa, 3B4000012 .385
Brendan Ryan, SS3000001 .083
   b- Rick Ankiel, PH1000011 .000
Joel Pineiro, P1000010 .000
    Dennys Reyes, P0000000 .000
   c- Joe Thurston, PH1000010 .000
    John Smoltz, P0000000 .000
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
   d- Jason LaRue, PH1000000 .000
    Ryan Franklin, P0000000 .000
Totals3316126  
a-walked for Schumaker in the 8th
b-struck out for Ryan in the 9th
c-struck out for Reyes in the 5th
d-popped out for Motte in the 8th
Batting
2B - Colby Rasmus (3, Padilla), Yadier Molina (1, Padilla)
RBI - Albert Pujols (1)
2-OUT RBI - Albert Pujols (1)
SB - Julio Lugo (2, 2nd base off Broxton/Martin)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
E - Joel Pineiro (1, Missed catch of throw)
St. Louis Cardinals
Joel Pineiro (L,0-1) 4744031 9.00
Dennys Reyes 1000020 9.00
John Smoltz 2411050 4.50
Jason Motte 1000000 0.00
Ryan Franklin 1100010 0.00
Pitches-Strikes - Joel Pineiro 63-44, Dennys Reyes 10-8, John Smoltz 49-34, Jason Motte 7-6, Ryan Franklin 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joel Pineiro 7-3, Dennys Reyes 1-0, Jason Motte 3-0, Ryan Franklin 2-0
Batters Faced - Joel Pineiro 20, Dennys Reyes 3, John Smoltz 10, Jason Motte 3, Ryan Franklin 4
Game Information
Attendance - 47296
Game Time - 3:02
Temperature - 57
Umpires - Home - Mike Everitt, First Base - Jeff Nelson, Second Base - Ed Rapuano, Third Base - Tony Randazzo