LOS ANGELES -- Kenley Jansen blew his second save in five chances this season -- his first since being named the Los Angeles Dodgers' full-time closer -- by giving up a two-out, pinch-hit, game-tying home run to the St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Berkman in the top of the ninth inning. But A.J. Ellis drew a four-pitch bases-loaded walk from Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas in the bottom of the inning to give the Dodgers a 6-5 victory before 40,906 on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
The winning rally began when Elian Herrera, the rookie utility man the Dodgers promoted from Triple-A Albuquerque for the first time earlier this week, led off the bottom of the ninth by working Salas for an eight-pitch walk, fouling off a pair of 3-2 pitches in the process. The Cardinals walked James Loney intentionally to load the bases with one out for Ellis and set up a potential double play.
The blown save ruined veteran left-hander Ted Lilly's chance to run his record to 6-0 to begin the season. Lilly scattered four hits over seven strong innings and didn't allow an earned run, although the Cardinals did tag him for four unearned runs in the third inning.
The Dodgers improved baseball's best record to 26-13.
Risky business. With Loney running off second and one out in the second, Ellis pulled a single through the left side. Although the ball was hit sharply and Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday was charging, Dodgers third-base coach Tim Wallach never hesitated in enthusiastically waving Loney home. Holliday's throw beat Loney, but was just off-line enough that Loney was able to run to the infield side of the plate and barely avoid catcher Yadier Molina's tag, slapping the plate with his right hand as he slid in. Ellis went to second on the throw and subsequently scored on Tony Gwynn's triple, making it 3-0 early.
Hit 'em where they ain't. With Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal shading him well toward the second-base bag, left-handed-hitting Adam Kennedy poked a game-tying single in the third right through the spot where Furcal would've been standing in a straight-up defensive alignment, bringing Mark Ellis home from third. The .186 batting average Kennedy sported coming into this game led many to wonder if his long career was nearing its end. Not yet, apparently. Batting fifth for the Dodgers, Kennedy went 3-for-3 with a double, a walk, a run scored and an RBI, and he also speared two smoking-hit liners hit right at him at third base. He also committed an error in the seventh, but it turned out to be harmless.
Bouncing back. After giving up a two-run homer to Holliday to cap a four-run Cardinals third, Lilly retired 13 of the next 15 batters, giving up only one hit with another hitter reaching on Kennedy's error. Only two balls were hit out of the infield during that stretch, which kept the game tied through the seventh inning and saved the Dodgers bullpen on a night when Lilly got into early trouble and could have been headed for an early exit.
About face. No sooner had the Dodgers taken a 3-0 lead in the second than the Cardinals came back with four in a wild-and-wooly third that included an errant pickoff throw by catcher A.J. Ellis that rendered all four runs unearned; a momentary failure by Ellis to locate a pitch in the dirt on which Shane Robinson struck out, allowing Robinson to reach; and an ejection of manager Don Mattingly for arguing from the dugout when the Dodgers didn't get the call on what would have been an inning-ending third strike to Matt Carpenter that would have preserved a two-run lead.
Wasted chances. The Dodgers stranded nine baserunners through the first eight innings, seven of them in scoring position and three of them at third base, all three of whom had gotten to third base with less than two outs.
The unset table. Dee Gordon's maddening struggles in the leadoff spot continued, the Dodgers shortstop going 0-for-5 without hitting a ball out of the infield.