(St. Louis) (AP) – Yasiel Puig and the Los Angeles Dodgers wound up winless in St. Louis this week.
Puig struck out four times and the Dodgers fizzled again with runners in scoring position in a 1-0 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday that left Los Angeles in a 2-0 NL championship series deficit.
Missing injured star Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers struck out 13 times – including their last five batters. They’ve whiffed a record 24 times, one more than the previous mark for the first two games of an LCS, set by the 1969 Minnesota Twins and matched by last year’s Detroit Tigers, according to STATS.
Dodgers batters were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position Saturday, dropping to 1 for 16 (.063) RISP in the series.
Michael Wacha kept the Dodgers’ offense in check, outdueling NL Cy Young Award favorite Clayton Kershaw.
“We had our chances, for sure,” Kershaw said. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Wacha. He pitched better than I did and they won. That’s the bottom line. He’s impressive.”
St. Louis managed only two hits off Kershaw and the Dodgers, but Jon Jay’s sacrifice fly set up by David Freese’s double and A.J. Ellis’ passed ball in the fifth stood up.
Rookie Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth with a heater reaching 101 mph, fanning pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on three pitches to end it. A day after outlasting Los Angeles 3-2 in 13 innings, the Cardinals moved two wins away from the World Series.
The series shifts to Dodger Stadium, with Game 3 on Monday night. Los Angeles rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu faces Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
“We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We don’t deny also what’s happened here the last two days.
“Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that.”
The Dodgers hope to get Ramirez back by Monday. The shortstop was plunked in the left ribs with a fastball in Friday night’s opener. He felt pain swinging just before Saturday’s first pitch and said it was too much to play. He’ll undergo further tests Sunday.
Los Angeles is hitting .184 (14 for 76) with three extra-base hits in the first two games. They had their chances Saturday, especially in the sixth inning.
Kershaw led off with a single, and Carl Crawford reached on an infield single that was gloved by diving second baseman Matt Carpenter, who tried for a force but ended up with an error that left runners on second and third.
Mark Ellis popped out and Adrian Gonzalez was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Puig then struck out, as did Juan Uribe.
“Obviously, we had a couple of chances,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve just got to be able to execute with men on third.”
Puig is 0 for 10 with six strikeouts in the series and has stranded eight runners. After failing to drive in Ellis, the Cuban rookie slammed his bat into the ground.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly gave some of the credit to Yadier Molina, the Cardinals’ All-Star catcher.
“Yeah, obviously, he’s frustrated,” Mattingly said. “Yadier is doing a nice job as far as yo-yoing him back and forth and keeping him in the rocking chair. That’s where I think we see his inexperience kind of come up, how to handle what’s going on and what’s he’s looking for.”
Los Angeles has not scored in 19 straight innings.
“We haven’t come through so far in these two games,” said Adrian Gonzalez, 1 for 5 with three strikeouts in the series.”
Wacha was removed in the seventh following Nick Punto’s two-out single. Kevin Siegrist relieved, Michael Young pinch hit for Kershaw, and Punto advanced on a pair of wild pitches. Young then flied out.
“I always want to stay in the game, but I understand where Donnie’s coming from,” said Kershaw, who threw just 72 pitches. “I get it. We can’t give up any more outs, and Michael Young is one of the best players the last 10 years.”