NLDS Instant Reaction: Cardinals Hold Off Dodgers 3-1 In St. Louis

This Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals is the only one of the four this year to head into Game 3 tied at a game apiece.

It's been as close as the series tally indicates, with each game at Dodger Stadium decided by a single run. The trend of nail-biters continued on Monday, with St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter's 3rd-inning solo home run providing the only scoring in the game until the 6th.

LA's Hyun-Jin Ryu and St. Louis' John Lackey would dazzle all night long. Staked to a 1-0 lead, Lackey would finally cough one up on a Hanley Ramirez RBI double (off of a misplaced first-pitch fastball) in the top of the 6th, tying the game at one.

However, St. Louis second baseman Kolten Wong would untie things with one thunderous swing of the bat, plating two in the bottom of the 7th to give St. Louis the lead at 3-1.

The Cardinals would cruise through the top of the 8th, but would get nothing with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom half of the inning.

The Dodgers would almost make them pay, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with one out against St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal would squirm out of it, however, by inducing back-to-back fly outs - handing St. Louis a 3-1 win and a 2-1 series advantage.

Turning Point: Kolten Wong was very happy that Hyun-Jin Ryu was relieved by Scott Elbert in the bottom of the 7th.

After St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina doubled to open things off of Elbert and was sacrificed to third on a John Jay bunt, Wong got all of one to deep right for a two-run blast. To put things into perspective, Wong had just 12 home runs in 433 plate appearances during the regular season.

That was no matter on this night as Wong's turn to play the slugger handed St. Louis control of the series with one swing of the bat.

Dodgers MVP:  SP Hyun-Jin Ryu – 6 IP, 5 hits, 1 earned runs, 1 walks, 4 strikeouts

Ryu often gets overlooked with the two-headed monster of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke occupying the front of the Dodgers' starting rotation. However, Ryu more than did his job on Monday - scattering five hits and one walk over six innings to keep the Dodgers in the game. As soon as he left, the bottom fell out as the Dodgers' bullpen has had its share of troubles in this series.

Yet, you can't blame Ryu after he exhausted his entire arsenal in hopes of handing Los Angeles a series lead heading into Tuesday.

Cardinals MVP: 3B Matt Carpenter – 2-for-4, 2 hits, 1 run scored, 1 RBI, 1 HR

Kolten Wong and John Lackey (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) both deserve a major share of this award, but Carpenter's early blast once again gave the Cardinals some confidence to play with against a Dodgers team expected to outslug St. Louis at every turn in this series.

Part of the reason why Carpenter gets this award as well is the sheer impact he has had on this series. He has hit .500 with three home runs, seven RBIs, and four runs scored in three games, providing the Cardinals with unbelievable production out of the leadoff spot.

What’s Next?

The teams return to Busch Stadium tomorrow for Game 4, with first pitch slated for 5:07pm EST. Clayton Kershaw (21-3, 1.77) will take the hill for the Dodgers' first elimination game of 2014 against St. Louis' Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74).

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