But with the Cardinals nursing a 3-2 lead and Wells having lost six games in a row, La Russa no doubt wanted Wells to get one more out and possibly qualify for the win. Plus, the Cardinals bullpen was worked hard the night before when Adam Wainwright lasted only 2 2/3 innings.
So La Russa let Wells, who had got an out on the previous hitter, face the Dodgers' Wilson Betemit with two outs and two on, and Betemit cracked his third pinch homer of the season, a three-run drive, to give the Dodgers a lead they wouldn't lose.
For the first time in nearly a month, the Cardinals gave Wells a lead. But, after a wild pitch and an error gave the Cardinals two runs in a three-run third inning, Wells allowed a run in the fourth and then got beat in the fifth.
"He competed pretty hard, but he made a mistake to Betemit," La Russa said. But he added, "He earned the right to face Betemit."
Wells said, "I wasn't really aware of my pitch count. I knew I had thrown a lot, but I'm thankful (La Russa) gave me a chance to win the game.
"It's frustrating and a little demoralizing."
The sixth and final walk issued by Wells was something of a controversial one, as La Russa had Andre Ethier walked intentionally with a runner at second and one out. Ethier became the lead run, and then Wells wild-pitched the runners to second and third. The Cardinals got an out at third on a fielder's choice on the next play, but Wells couldn't retire Betemit, who jumped on a changeup, and the Cardinals lost their second straight series on this nine-game trip, two games to one.
DODGERS 5, CARDINALS 4: Although the Cardinals out-hit the Dodgers for the second night in succession, this time 12-7, they were only 2-for-9 with men in scoring position. Kip Wells, already the losingest pitcher in the majors, is 1-8 after walking six and allowing five hits in only five innings, throwing a whopping 125 pitches in the process.
NOTES AND QUOTES
--RHP Adam Wainwright, who didn't make it out of the third inning Tuesday, said he had been pitching with some elbow tendinitis earlier in the season, although he wasn't using that as an excuse for his poor outing against the Dodgers. Wainwright will have two extra days of rest before he is scheduled to start again Tuesday at home against Pittsburgh.
--SS David Eckstein, mired in a month-long slump, went 7-for-11 in the three-game series at Dodger Stadium with three multi-hit games in succession.
--C Yadier Molina had two hits Wednesday, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
--RF Juan Encanacion didn't get the ball out of the infield in five at-bats Wednesday, but three of the at-bats resulted in infield hits.
--The Cardinals scored all four of their runs with two outs. This was their first three-game series in which they scored more than three runs in every game.
--Newly signed RHP Todd Wellemeyer will throw on the side and then be activated on Friday in Detroit. Wellemeyer was claimed off waivers from Kansas City.
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 -- The number of games in the first 35 in which the Cardinals scored in the first inning.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Tony has my 100 percent support as Cardinals manager. That hasn't changed one bit and I don't anticipate that changing." -- Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr., on the immediate future of manager Tony La Russa.