Matt Kemp led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a tie-breaking home run as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2, Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, leveling their National League Division Series at one game a piece.
Game 3 of the best-of-five series will be played Monday in St. Louis.
The Cardinals tied the score in the top of the eighth on Matt Carpenter’s two-run homer off reliever J.P. Howell in front of a crowd announced at 54,599.
Brandon League, the third of four Dodger pitchers, was credited with the victory, pitching a shutout eighth after Howell failed to retire any of the three batters he faced.
Kemp hit his game-winner off Pat Neshak, the third St. Louis pitcher, who was charged with the loss.
“Coming into this stadium I thought we had to win this game,” Kemp said. “You don’t want to go 2-0 in St. Louis.”
Kemp’s home run “was hit in the right spot, looked like it was going to stay straight and I thought it was going to be gone right away,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly said.
Dodger closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for the save, striking out two.
Dodger starter Zack Greinke pitched seven shutout innings, allowing two hits and only two runners past first base. Greinke struck out seven and walked two.
“Greinke was throwing the ball well,” St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. “He had sharp stuff today. He had an above-average breaking ball, slider chasing off the plate.”
Greinke did not allow a hit until Kolten Wong doubled with one out in the fifth.
Carpenter had the other hit off Greinke, doubling to lead off the sixth, but was stranded as Jhonny Peralta struck out to end the inning.
Mattingly said he took Greinke out of the game after seven innings because “he was done.”
“When he came back out of that (sixth) inning we talked about ‘Where are you at?”’ Mattingly said. “And he goes, ‘I’m good through Carpenter.’ So I knew where he was kind of his limit was.”
Cardinals starter Lance Lynn allowed two runs, both earned, and seven hits, striking out eight and walking two.
“I thought Lance Lynn did a nice job of keeping us in that game,” Matheny said. “Lance’s fastball was good. I thought he used some secondary pitches and gave us a chance. Then we put the ball in the hands of our bullpen, who had been extremely good all season, especially Pat Neshak. Their guy got him. It’s going to happen.”
The Dodgers opened the scoring with two runs in the third, the second run coming after Mattingly’s replay challenge.
A.J. Ellis led off with a double and moved to third on Greinke’s single. He scored when Dee Gordon hit into what was initially ruled a double play, but Mattingly’s challenge determined Cardinals second baseman Wong did not have the ball in his glove when he tagged Greinke.
“It’s a tough play because your instincts are to reach and Kolten didn’t even realize that he still had the ball in his bare hand,” Matheny said.
Yasiel Puig struck out, which, but for the challenge, would have been the third out. Adrian Gonzalez followed with a single, driving in Greinke.