by Beth Harris
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A recurring neck injury reduced Chris Taylor from starter to bench player in September.
He proved a pain in the neck to the St. Louis Cardinals at the bottom of the ninth inning.
Taylor hit a two-run homer to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-1 win in a spectacular NL wild-card game on Wednesday night.
Justin Turner returned early at home and the 106-win Dodgers advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Giants, who won 107 games to barely hold on to rival Los Angeles for the division title. Game 1 is Friday night in San Francisco.
“It’s going to be fun. Yeah, two of the best regular-season records ever. We’ve been struggling all year, so I expect a tough series,” Taylor said.
The Dodgers celebrated on the field before heading to their clubhouse to continue the party. Beer and champagne were poured over the heads of shirtless, goggle-clad players.
A sell-out crowd of 53,193 hung on every pitch as the tension of the fourth inning tie game. Fans waved blue towels, urging in vain to launch only a few balls into the outfield as they were caught in a winner-take-all matchup between two of the National League’s most storied and successful franchises.
Cody Bellinger drew two-out away from TJ McFarland and finished second in ninth, when nearly every fan was on their feet, anxiously waiting to see if the defending World Series champions could win. can.
9 slot after entering to play left field as part of a double switch in the seventh, Taylor said, “It’s huge, knowing I don’t have to do too much. ” “It settled me a little bit.”
Alex Reyes came on to face Taylor, who sent a 2-1 breaking ball into the left-field pavilion, causing an explosion of cheers.
“To be honest, I was just trying to hit a single. Trying not to do too much,” Taylor said after launching the fourth walk-off homer in Dodgers postseason history. “He gave me a good slider to hit and I was able to lift it up in the air.”
Tommy Edman dropped a single close to Kenley Jensen in the top of the ninth and stole the second. Paul Goldschmidt strikes third and Tyler O’Neill goes down swinging to end the threat.
The Dodgers’ bullpen stunned the St. Louis hitters, allowing only a pair of singles after the fifth inning.
“The whole bullpen moved forward. We’ve been doing it all year,” Janssen said. “Now we head north.”
Both the teams finished runners-up in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but could not score a single run.
St. Louis finished 0 for 11 with the runners in the scoring position, 11th overall. The Cardinals went on a 17-game winning streak in September to grab a second wild-card spot, only to see their playoff dreams live off.
“It’s a clubhouse full of people who are hurting,” said manager Mike Schildt.
St. Louis dueling aces Adam Wainwright and Dodgers Max Scherzer struggled with their control in just the second winner-take-all game in post-season history, with two starting pitchers over the age of 37. Wainwright is 40; Scherzer is 37.
“They were relentless,” Wainwright said of the Dodgers. “We had a chance to win that game.”
Wainwright and Shazer issued two walks each in the first three innings. Scherzer’s wild pitch scored a run first and he sank Harrison Bader in the fourth.
Turner tied it on 1 of the fourth on a leadoff single shot in the Dodgers’ bullpen. It was the first Homer Wainwright to ever drop a curveball in the postseason. Turner’s 13 postseason homers are the most in franchise history.
St. Louis took a 1-0 lead when Edman scored on Scherzer’s wild pitch. Edman took a leading off single, stole second base and went to third after O’Neill fouled to the right.
Scherzer left with one in the fifth after Edman was run for the leadoff single and Goldschmidt. He rolled the dugout with his hands on his hips. Former Cardinal Joe Kelly jumped out of the jam after Goldschmidt finished third on a wild pitch.
Scherzer allowed one run and three hits, scored four and scored three against his hometown team.
“Pins and needles all night. What an effort by our guys,” a shirtless Shazer said during a postgame interview with TBS on the field. “Now we party.”
Wainwright conceded one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He hit five and walked two.
The Dodgers had Wainwright on the ropes in third, loading the bases with one. He was within a ball of walking into the tying run before the grounding of Tree Turner’s bat was broken in an innings-ending double play on a pitch 3–2.
National outfielder Juan Soto sat behind the plate wearing a Tree Turner jersey from his time in Washington. Soto finished second only to his former NTS teammate Turner for the NL batting title. Turner won his first batting crown at an average of .328.
Soto said he wanted to support his teammates and “look at their faces when I surprise them.”
It worked. Turner didn’t know Soto was coming.
“I was laughing when I saw him wearing my jersey for him during the game,” he said.
National hitting coach Kevin Long, wearing Scherzer’s jersey, sat next to Soto.
Dodgers co-owners Magic Johnson and Billie Jean King sat together nearby.
Cardinals: Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in mid-February.
Dodgers: Open best-of-five NLDS against San Francisco on Friday. They were 9-10 against the Giants this season.
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