The Los Angeles Dodgers have a chance to pull even with the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL's final playoff spot.
The Cardinals would prefer to widen their tenuous lead.
Andre Ethier will try to continue his success against St. Louis in order to turn the league's wild-card race into a dead heat Saturday night.
Los Angeles (75-70) is one game behind the Cardinals (76-69) for the second wild-card position after winning 8-5 on Friday. The Dodgers, who fell 2-1 in Thursday's opener of this important four-game series, have won just two of nine.
"(Friday) we scored some runs and played the game right," said third baseman Luis Cruz , who hit a three-run homer and finished with four RBIs. "It's our time now. And from now on we're going to keep playing hard every day. We've got to keep fighting. We're never going to give up, and I think we're going to come through and win a wild card spot."
Ethier will likely have a say in that. He's hitting .431 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 13 games at Chavez Ravine after getting two hits Friday, including a two-run homer.
"Dre's home run on a 3-0 green light was huge," manager Don Mattingly said. "He's dangerous and especially aggressive when you let him go on 3-0."
Ethier is a career .391 hitter in 24 games against the Cardinals, and may be in for another big effort at the plate with Jaime Garcia (4-7, 4.41 ERA) scheduled to get the ball for St. Louis.
Garcia is trying to finally carry some of his home success onto the road. The left-hander is 2-2 with a 2.63 ERA in seven home starts, but he's 2-5 with a 6.19 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .325 in nine road outings.
"We just talked about carrying his home approach when he's on the road," pitching coach Derek Lilliquist told the team's official website. "The emphasis is to work backward on your timing just like you do at home."
Garcia's issues as a visiting pitcher have shown few signs of abating, losing four straight starts with an 11.02 ERA. He was hit hard again Monday, surrendering four runs and seven hits with four strikeouts and three walks in three innings of an 11-3 defeat at San Diego.
"I have no idea why. If I did, then we'd do something to fix it," manager Mike Matheny told the team's official website. "There's not a good explanation: It's 60 feet, six inches. You can't deny that it's something he's struggling with."
Facing the Dodgers may not help since Garcia is 1-1 with a 7.43 ERA in three starts against them. However, he won his only start at Chavez Ravine on April 14, 2011, allowing three runs in five innings.
Matt Holliday is looking to build on his two-run homer from Friday, and he owns a .340 average with 21 homers and 75 RBIs lifetime versus Los Angeles.
He's also 4 for 10 with two doubles and two homers versus Joe Blanton , the Dodgers' scheduled starter.
Blanton (9-13, 4.98) is 1-4 with a 6.25 ERA in seven starts since being acquired in a trade from Philadelphia.
The right-hander was pressed into duty Sunday after Clayton Kershaw was scratched with a sore hip. He responded by giving up four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 4-0 loss at San Francisco.
Blanton is 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in his last four regular-season games - three starts - against St. Louis.
|Tony Gwynn Jr.||2||.000||0||0||0||1||0||.333||.333||.000|
|Jerry Hairston Jr.||11||.182||2||0||0||0||1||.182||.455||.273|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|September 09, 2012||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Swollen left ankle|
|September 09, 2012||Matt Carpenter||Day-to-Day||Cut hand|
|September 09, 2012||Jake Westbrook||Day-to-Day||Strained right oblique|
|August 31, 2012||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Torn UCL, right elbow - out for season|
|August 30, 2012||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Left game - right elbow strain|
|August 28, 2012||Yadier Molina||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained upper back|
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
|September 11, 2012||Adam Kennedy||60-Day DL||Strained right groin|
|September 09, 2012||Clayton Kershaw||Day-to-Day||Sore hip|
|September 08, 2012||Adam Kennedy||Day-to-Day||Strained right groin|
|September 08, 2012||Matt Kemp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder strain|
|September 03, 2012||Javy Guerra||15-Day DL||Left oblique strain|
|September 01, 2012||Chris Withrow||60-Day DL||Recovery from torn pectoral muscle|
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Luis Cruz and the Los Angeles Dodgers are showing the kind of spunk and tenacity that hasn't been seen around Chavez Ravine for quite a while, and now the playoffs aren't such a far-fetched possibility after all. Far from it.
Cruz came up with his second clutch hit in two nights, a tying two-out RBI double in the ninth inning, and pinch-hitter Juan Rivera followed with a run-scoring single to lift the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night.
The Dodgers' third victory in 10 games tied them with the Cardinals for the second wild card spot with 16 remaining for both clubs. The Cardinals lost despite a homer and three RBIs by Allen Craig .
"This was pretty big. It was definitely one of our most exciting games of the season so far," center fielder Matt Kemp said. "Cruz has definitely been amazing for us. He's been hitting the ball, getting those big hits for us and doing what it takes to win. That was an all-around good team win for us."
After this four-game series concludes on Sunday, the Cards will play their next nine games against the Astros and Cubs - who are a combined 83 games under .500 and 69 1-2 games out of first place in the NL Central. The defending World Series champions put themselves into this precarious position by losing 13 of their last 28 games.
"We invest ourselves a lot in every game, but obviously this one stings more than others," Craig said. "It's a tough loss, but putting your head down and being overly concerned about it isn't going to get us anywhere. So we've just got to play better and stay positive. We're still in a good spot."
Jason Motte (4-5) came in trying to protect a 3-2 lead for Jaime Garcia and retired his first two batters. But Andre Ethier kept the Dodgers alive with a single and pinch-runner Dee Gordon stole second before Cruz drove him in with a drive that center fielder Jon Jay barely missed on a diving attempt in front of the warning track.
Rivera batted for A.J. Ellis and lined a single off the tip of second baseman Daniel Descalso 's glove, enabling pinch-runner Elian Herrera to score the winning run. Descalso started the game at shortstop and committed two errors, one of which led to an unearned run in the first inning.
On Friday night, Cruz helped beat the Cardinals 8-5 with a go-ahead three-run homer in the sixth against Mujica.
"It's unbelievable. It's like a dream for me," Cruz said. "I'm just trying to go out there and give a hundred percent and play hard every time. I'm having the chance to come through in big situations. I'm not going to say I'm lucky, but I've been really concentrating and having good at-bats."
Ronald Belisario (6-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory. Kemp helped make it possible in the top of the ninth. He crashed into the fence trying to catch Yadier Molina 's drive over his head, but recovered in time and kept him from stretching his hit into a triple with a brilliant somersaulting throw to Cruz.
"When Molina hit the ball, I didn't know hard he hit it, but it just kept carrying," Kemp said. "I thought I might have had a play at the wall and banged into it, but I wanted to get the ball, pick it up and try to make a good throw. It turned out to be a pretty good one. That was a big out."
Kemp, whose swing hasn't been the same since he crashed into the fence at Coors Field on consecutive days (Aug. 27-28), was 0 for 4 and struck out three times in a game for the fifth time this season. He is 5 for 48 with a homer and two RBIs in his last 12 games since the Dodgers left Denver, but he is still playing with the same reckless abandon as before he got hurt.
"For me, it's all about winning," he said. "I mean, you try not to do stupid things like crashing into fences. But when I'm out there, man, I'm just trying to make a play and make things happen. I crashed into the wall, but it didn't faze me."
Dodgers starter Joe Blanton gave up three runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings and struck out six.
A disputed call on a bang-bang play at first base enabled St. Louis to snap a 2-all tie in the sixth. Garcia drew a leadoff walk, ending a string of 13 consecutive batters retired by Blanton, and Jay followed with a single. One out later, Matt Holliday hit a potential double-play grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez and just beat the relay to first from second baseman Mark Ellis .
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly went out to argue with umpire Dana DeMuth, and shortly after he returned to the dugout, Craig lined a single to left on an 0-2 pitch to drive in Garcia and chase Blanton.
Blanton, who has surrendered an NL-worst 29 home runs, gave up Craig's 21st of the season in the first inning after a two-out single by Matt Holliday .
"Blanton did a really good job of throwing all of his pitches for strikes," Craig said. "He got his fastball on the inside corner and had good command. He didn't make too many mistakes."
The Dodgers got one of the runs back in the bottom half when Shane Victorino reached on a throwing error by Descalso, stole second and scored on a two-out single by Adrian Gonzalez . Mark Ellis tied it in the third with a leadoff homer into the lower seats in the left field corner on a full count.
Before the game, the Dodgers announced that reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would not make his scheduled start in Sunday's series finale because of inflammation in his right hip.
NOTES: Cardinals RF Carlos Beltran did not start because of tightness in his lower back. ... Blanton has a career record of 6-13 with nine no-decisions when allowing a home run in the first inning. ... The gametime temperature was 95 degrees, one more than Friday night. ... Craig, batting an NL-best .393 with runners in scoring position, missed the first month of the season on the disabled list while recovering from a fractured right knee cap and sat out another 14 games in May with a left hamstring strain.