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For the Cardinals it couldn’t have gone much worse.  The plan was for Adam Wainwright to deck the Los Angeles nine, to leave them staggered, on the ropes, just waiting for the one final shot to end their fight and put them out for good.

Wasn’t going to happen.  The Dodgers did to the Cardinals ace what the Redbirds had done to theirs.  They beat him with a rookie.  Well Hyun-Jin Ryu isn’t really a rookie, but the big Korean import had certainly never dealt with a situation quite like this one.

Puig found his groove last night
Photo by Bob James, used under creative commons license.
As I said on Monday, when Ryu said he’d be happy to just go five innings, he was in fact being humble.  What Ryu did was not just repeat his Aug. 8 shutout of the Cardinals, but better it.  He threw seven innings and yielded just three hits, further exposing the Cardinals' weakness against left handed pitching.

Well maybe it’s not just left-handed pitching.  Certainly the Cardinals don’t look like the team that led the NL in runs scored right now.  They’ve managed just four runs in three games, and they’ve managed to hit just .134.   

Ordinarily that would be a crushing statistic and you’d assume that a team that didn’t even hit the weight of their batboys would be down 3-0.  But the Dodgers have only managed five runs themselves.

But this is the first game they’ve shown a lot of offensive spark.  But aside from a few hard-hit balls the Dodgers didn’t exactly look like the team that overwhelmed Atlanta.  No they won this game not quite in the same way that the Cardinals have beaten them but hardly with an offensive onslaught.

Still they did what they had to.  Going into Game 4 it’s hard not to like the Dodgers' chances to even up the series.  Unless something changes before the start of the game tomorrow the matchup of Lance Lynn and Ricky Nolasco doesn’t look to be as much of a pitchers' duel as we’ve seen in the first three games.

That’s not to say that neither of them can’t dominate in the right situation.  But both have been coming off some shaky performances in their recent past, Nolasco posting a 12.75 ERA in his last three starts and Lynn struggling badly down the stretch and getting hammered by Pittsburgh in the NLDS.

So while it's possible that one of them will step up and pitch an outstanding game, Game 4 could be one where the offenses flourish.  And if it turns into a slugfest, the advantage may well rest with the Dodgers.  

Or maybe not.  While the Cardinals are missing the bat of Allen Craig, arguably their best hitter, the Dodgers are dealing with an at least somewhat hobbled Hanley Ramirez, a clearly struggling Andre Ethier, and of course no Matt Kemp.

Still if the edge belongs anywhere it belongs to the Dodgers, who’ve finally got a bit of momentum, have their aces coming back for Games 5 and 6 and are playing at home.  Of course if the Cardinals' bats actually wake up maybe all bets are off.

It should be a hell of a game tonight.