Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  By STAN McNEAL  |  Last updated 10/12/13
ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- Just think, the Dodgers haven't even seen the Cardinals' best pitcher yet. That Adam Wainwright is waiting for them in Game 3 could not have made for a very happy flight for the boys in blue Saturday night, especially after a couple of difficult-to-stomach outcomes, a 1-0 loss earlier that afternoon that followed a 3-2, 13-inning loss in Game 1. A week that could not have started much better for the Dodgers could not have ended much worse. After finishing off the Braves in the National League Division Series on Monday, the Dodgers had time to line up their rotation for the National League Championship Series with aces Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw rested and ready for the first two games. An offense that had hit .333 against the Braves was rolling and a four-day break between series gave them time to get healthier. But that all changed at Busch Stadium. The Dodgers couldn't win despite strong outings from both of their aces. Their best player, Hanley Ramirez, who suffered bruised ribs when hit by a pitch Friday night, was a late scratch for Game 2 and remains uncertain for Game 3. And the Dodgers' offense went 19 innings without scoring. That their pitching delivered as expected was about all the Dodgers could hang their hopes on. They also received a bit of positive news on the injury front when X-rays on Ramirez's ribs showed no breaks. "We'll take this for what it is," said Kershaw, Saturday's hard-luck loser. "It's not the end of the world but it's definitely not a good thing. We'll go back home and get an off-day, try to make some adjustments and get ready to go." The Cardinals actually were out-hit in both games, 5-2 on Saturday and 9-7 on Friday. Coming up with the clutch hit was the main problem for L.A.'s offense. The Dodgers went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position against Michael Wacha and four Cardinals relievers on Saturday after going 1-for-10 in similar situations in Game 1. Good pitching or bad hitting? "They're making mistakes," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "We're just not taking advantage." Well, now. The Cardinals must not have made that many mistakes, especially when it mattered. Gonzalez, in fact, said he saw only two good pitches to hit in his four plate appearances, where he was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a well-called intentional walk. In the sixth, Wacha put on Gonzalez after allowing a pair of singles with only one out. Then he promptly struck out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe, getting both to swing at pitches well out of the strike zone for strike three. No Dodger was frustrated more than the rookie Puig, 0-for-10 in the series after striking out four times in Game 2. Wacha got him three times before closer Trevor Rosenthal caught him looking at a 98 mph fastball on the way to striking out the side in the ninth. Rosenthal threw seven pitches to Puig, all timed between 97 and 99 mph. This was after Wacha got him to chase a fastball in the sixth, blew a 97-mph heater past him in the fourth and slipped a slider past him in the first that was also out of the zone. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said someone besides the young arms deserved some credit for Puig's long afternoon -- Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, the man the youngsters rarely shake off. "Yadier is doing a nice job as far as yo-yoing him back and forth and keeping him in the rocking chair," Mattingly said. "That's where I think we see (Puig's) inexperience come up." With Molina behind the plate, the Cardinals rookies are capably guided by experienced hands. Molina had to do a lot of leading, as rookie pitchers accounted for 26 of the Cardinals' 27 outs in Game 2. Now Molina will call signals for Wainwright, who will be coming off a complete-game victory in the decisive Game 5 of the division series. Wainwright has pitched well in the postseason at Dodger Stadium, limiting L.A. to one run over eight innings in a 2009 division series game the Cardinals lost 3-2. He already had his mind set before the Cardinals lifted off for Los Angeles. "That team is very good from top to bottom, pitching and hitting. They're going to want to go out there and give those L.A. fans a good show," Wainwright said. "But we're very confident. We have to do it one game at a time. We're not looking forward to the end of the series. We're going to look forward to Game 3." The way the Dodgers are going, you have to wonder if they can say the same. You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.
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