Carlos Martinez overcame an early bout of wildness before straightening himself out. After that, the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't straighten out any of the pitches he threw over the plate.
Martinez outpitched Brett Anderson again during their second low-scoring duel in six days, and the St. Louis Cardinals scratched across a pair of runs in the eighth inning to beat the Dodgers 2-1 Friday night.
''Both guys were on their game tonight,'' Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward said. ''Carlos kept us in the game the whole way, and that's huge. Our pitching has been awesome for us. And when your pitcher's throwing well, you feel like you can come back and win.''
Martinez (6-2) allowed his only run in the second on a bases-loaded walk to power-hitting rookie Joc Pederson. The right-hander gave up three hits and had a career-high 11 strikeouts in seven innings while helping the Cardinals lower their major league-best ERA to 2.57.
''Our hitters aren't going to have their best games every night, so it definitely helps when your pitcher's throwing like this in this type of environment against this type of team,'' Heyward said.
Last Sunday, Martinez held the Dodgers to one hit over seven innings and struck out eight in a 3-1 victory over Anderson, which followed an emotional pregame tribute to Martinez's late teammate and best friend Oscar Taveras, who was killed in a car accident in October.
This time, Anderson (2-4) allowed two runs and four hits in 7 2-3 innings.
''I'm just giving us a chance with quality starts,'' Anderson said. ''I did a good job until the eighth. There were some kind of fluky plays there. We expect these games to be close and competitive. So far they have been, we just haven't been on the right side.''
The Cardinals, with the best record in the majors at 37-18, were held to a pair of harmless singles over the first seven innings and failed to get a runner in scoring position until everything unraveled for Anderson in the eighth.
Kolten Wong was credited with a tying RBI single when Anderson failed to cover first base on a grounder to Adrian Gonzalez wide of the bag. Matt Carpenter drove in Heyward with a sacrifice fly on Anderson's 88th and final pitch.
Trevor Rosenthal, the fourth St. Louis pitcher, got three outs for his 18th save in 19 attempts to secure the Cardinals' fourth straight win and 10th in 12 games.
Martinez, who hadn't allowed a run in his previous three starts spanning 20 1-3 innings, gave up two walks and two singles in the second when the Dodgers scored their run. After the walk to Pederson, Martinez minimized the damage by retiring Jimmy Rollins on a double-play grounder - two pitches after getting a visit from pitching coach Derek Lilliquist.
''The second inning was a little bit of a mess that could have turned out really bad, but he made some good pitches. That was really the only inning that he had any kind of hiccups,'' Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. ''It was just another really good outing for him, and quite a test.''
The Dodgers did not get another baserunner until Gonzalez drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. Martinez struck out the next three batters.
''He's a great pitcher,'' Pederson said. ''He's got good velocity and good off-speed pitches that he located well. You've got to be patient, waiting for your pitch and put a good swing on it, but we didn't swing the bats.''
Scott Schebler, promoted earlier in the day from Triple-A Oklahoma City, started in left field for the Dodgers and went 1 for 3 in his major league debut - including an opposite-field single to left his first time up.
Cardinals: OF Tommy Pham (left quadriceps) was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Memphis. 1B Matt Adams (right quadriceps strain) was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
Dodgers: 2B Howie Kendrick missed his second straight game because of a sprained right knee. ... RHP Pedro Baez, who hasn't pitched since May 13 because of a strain in his right pectoral muscle, threw off a mound for the first time and didn't experience any pain.
Cardinals: LHP Jaime Garcia (1-2) will make his fourth start of the season after missing the first 40 games while recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (4-3) lost to St. Louis in the final game of the 2013 NL Championship Series and the final game of the 2014 Division Series. During the regular season, the reigning NL MVP and three-time Cy Young Award winner is 5-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 14 starts against the Cardinals.
Link to box score: St. Louis (37-18) 2 at Dodgers (31-24) 1