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Friday, September 14, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 8, Cardinals 5

By Ramona Shelburne


LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers broke out of a wretched offensive funk with eight runs off seven St. Louis Cardinals pitchers on Friday night and closed within a game in the National League wild-card race with an 8-5 win on the night the team passed 3 million in attendance for the 26th time, a Major League Baseball record.

The Cardinals hit three home runs off Dodgers starter Chris Capuano in the first three innings, but it didn't matter as the Dodgers tapped into some power of their own.

Andre Ethier blasted a two-run homer in the third inning and journeyman infielder Luis Cruz delivered the big blow with a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Dodgers a 6-4 lead. Cruz drove in four runs on the night.

The Good

Cruzin along: It figures that the lowest-paid player in the Dodgers' starting lineup would be the one to break the team out of an offensive funk. Cruz continued his torrid second half, blasting a three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth to give the Dodgers their first sign of life at the plate in what feels like a few weeks. He also drove in a run in the second inning.

Ethier in the No. 2 hole: Who says moving Ethier to the No. 2 hole is a reflection on his power numbers this year. The right fielder took Cardinals starter Joe Kelly deep in the bottom of the third inning, providing a quick answer after the Cardinals scored two in the top of the inning on a two-run homer by Matt Holliday.

Gonzalez getting going: And all of a sudden Adrian Gonzalez has found something. Gonzalez led off the second inning with a sharp ground-rule double to right field and hit a two-run double in the bottom of the seventh to extend the Dodgers' lead out to 8-4. Gonzalez is 3-for-7 with three doubles and three RBIs in the first two games of this homestand.

The Bad

Hanley's still a bit shaky at shortstop: It's not really an issue at this point in the season, but the Dodgers will have a decision to make at shortstop next season. Will Dee Gordon slide back into that role? Or will Hanley Ramirez stay there? Ramirez has been OK since moving back to short but still looks shaky at times. He committed his fifth error Friday and it was a costly one as it extended the top of the third inning and led to Holiday's two-run homer.

Capuano gives up three HR: Capuano has been rather hit-or-miss lately and Friday was definitely a miss. He gave up three home runs to the Cardinals in the first three innings, putting the Dodgers in an early hole, and was chased with one out in the fifth. Capuano gave up six runs in 6 1/3 innings against the Cardinals in a July 26 loss in St. Louis.

Kemp still struggling: It seemed as though every Dodger got in on the hit parade Friday except Matt Kemp. He'll take the win, of course, but Kemp went 0-for-4 again and still seems to be struggling to find his timing. The Dodgers may have turned things around with the win, but they'll need Kemp to turn around at some point if they're gonna go anywhere this year.