NLDS Instant Reaction: Dodgers Edge Cardinals 3-2 On Kemp's Late Blast

Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers was one for the archives, as the Cardinals rallied from down 6-2 with eight runs in the 7th inning. The Cardinals would hold on by the skin off their fingertips for a 10-9 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 was a lower-scoring affair, but still had plenty of drama to go around. Los Angeles starting pitcher Zack Greinke would dazzle while the Dodgers jumped out a 2-0 lead. However, once Greinke was pulled, chaos ensued.

A two-run home run by (who else?) St. Louis third baseman Matt Carpenter would tie the game at 2 in the top of the eighth inning. However, late fireworks provided by oft-maligned outfielder Matt Kemp would turn things around for LA in an instant, proving the difference in a 3-2 Dodgers triumph.

Turning Point: When Dodgers manager Don Mattingly pulled Zack Greinke after just 88 pitches at the beginning of the eighth, you could just feel Dodger Stadium holding its collective breath.

Carpenter's tying shot off of reliever JP Howell justified that fear...for just a few minutes.

Enter Matt Kemp, who had been the center of controversy in Los Angeles for a good chunk of the regular season. Kemp would turn aggressively on a Pat Neshek offering in the bottom of the 8th, waving his arms a la Carlton Fisk to keep his moonshot fair.

It worked, as Kemp's tie-breaking home run turned around the game, the mood, and the series (now tied at one apiece). Once again, it's great to be Matt Kemp.

Cardinals Player of the Game: Have another night, Matt Carpenter. After going 2-for-5 with a home run and 4 RBIs on Friday, the St. Louis leadoff hitter once again spurred on a St. Louis comeback with his mammoth Dodger Stadium-silencing shot in the top of the eighth.

Carpenter finished the game 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs and a run scored, adding another clutch moment to his growing playoff legacy.

Dodgers Player of the Game: Zack Greinke. The Dodgers needed him to provide an all-word outing to send them to St. Louis with a series split. He did more than his part, throwing an absolute gem in seven innings of work. Greinke scattered just two hits and two walks, striking out seven (including three huge Ks that staved off threats in the 5th and 6th).

Oh yeah, and he also went 2-for-3 from the plate with a run scored.

Don Mattingly will face criticism for removing Greinke, but none of that falls on the 30-year-old right hander. The Dodgers survived Mattingly's questionable decision, thanks in large part to Greinke's master class on how to pitch in a big game.

What's Next? The two teams travel east to St. Louis for Game 3 on Monday. The time of the game's first pitch is still TBD, with Los Angeles' Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-7, 3.38) toeing the rubber against veteran Cardinals hurler John Lackey (3-3, 4.30 [NL]).

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