ST. LOUIS — A pipe burst in the St. Louis Cardinals’ clubhouse on Thursday, leaving a mess to clean up.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have been plugging leaks all week.
But Friday night, the structural integrity of their pitching held together. Tony Gonsolin and four relievers combined on a two-hit shutout and Mookie Betts broke the game open with a three-run home run to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-0.
“A win’s a win. It’s going to be like that sometimes,” Betts said of going from Thursday’s slugfest to a game that featured only one run in the first seven innings. “You’ve just got to weather the storm. It’s a long season and there are going to be many ups and downs and unconventional games and whatnot. Just gotta play.”
A night after they combined for a Busch Stadium III record nine home runs – seven by the Cardinals – the closest anyone came to leaving the yard in the first seven innings was Paul Goldschmidt.
Leading off the sixth inning against Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol, Goldschmidt drove a ball 401 feet to center field. James Outman ran it down, leaping and banging into the wall as he reached up and robbed Goldschmidt of a home run to protect the Dodgers’ 1-0 lead.
“I just read it hard off the bat,” Outman said. “I actually turned the wrong way to start. I spun and I think the biggest thing is I timed the jump better. Last night (on Nolan Gorman’s eighth-inning homer), I felt like I was there a little early and got stuck. I just wanted to make sure I jumped early enough to give myself space between the wall and myself.
“I was just thinking you’d better freaking catch this one.”
The play was a big moment in a 1-0 game that had seen the Dodgers squander multiple scoring opportunities. But Outman didn’t see it that way.
“I was assuming that we were going to score more runs,” he said.
Outman’s assumption might have been swayed by the 24 runs that were scored in Thursday’s 16-8 slugfest. Friday’s game was much tamer.
“It’s quite the tale of two different nights,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
The only run through seven innings was set up when one of the best defensive players of his generation – Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado – made a throwing error.
That allowed Betts to reach base leading off the fifth inning. He was the Dodgers’ seventh baserunner in the game to that point. The previous six – including doubles by Freddie Freeman, Miguel Vargas and J.D. Martinez – had all been stranded with the Dodgers going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
Betts tried to take matters into his own hands. He tagged up and advanced to second base on Freeman’s fly out then had third base stolen on a pitch Will Smith fouled off. A balk by Cardinals starter Steven Matz got Betts to third base before Martinez drew a walk.
That brought up Chris Taylor, who had just one hit in his previous 21 at-bats. But Matz left a 2-and-2 fastball up and out over the plate and Taylor lashed it into left field for an RBI double.
That was all the offensive support the Dodgers offered Gonsolin, who boldly went where no Dodgers’ starting pitcher had gone – since Gonsolin’s previous start when he went five innings against the Padres on Sunday.
In the four games since then, Dodgers starters had pitched a combined total of 12 innings, leaning heavily on an overworked bullpen.
“I wasn’t trying to think about that too much,” Gonsolin said. “I was not super happy with it. Just some of the length stuff. The first two, three innings felt really long. I threw a lot of pitches.”
A 30-pitch first inning doomed any hope of Gonsolin getting truly deep into the game. But he pitched five scoreless innings for the second consecutive start, allowing just one hit and walking three, and hasn’t given up an earned run in his past 16 innings.
“I didn’t think he was as sharp as he has been his last three outings,” Roberts said. “Fastball velocity was down. I don’t think the slider was as sharp. That split(-finger fastball) was good at times but up at times as well. I think he just did a good job of competing and using what he had tonight to limit runs.”
Graterol and Shelby Miller protected the 1-0 lead until the Dodgers’ offense broke through for four runs after there were two outs in the eighth.
Betts came into the game just 10 for 48 (.208) over his previous 13 games but that included three home runs in the series against the Padres. He jumped on a first-pitch slider from Chris Stratton in the eighth inning to put the game away.
“Mookie is Mookie,” Outman said. “He came through big.”
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