br> After losing four in a row, the Dodgers also lost their the best record in baseball that they have held since May 4; they now share it with the Yankees. And a loss tonight mark the first time they've been swept in a four-game series in Missouri since 1987.
br> Young Clayton Kershaw, one of the names specifically asked for by potential trade partners as the trading deadline grinds down toward Friday afternoon, added another spectacular performance. In his's past nine starts, he is 5-0 with four no-decisions and a microscopic 0.79 ERA which is the best in the Major Leagues dating to June 10.
He credits the improvement to the addition of a slider to go with his fastball, curve and changeup.
The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when Casey Blake tripled and scored on James Loney's single.
Manny Ramirez made a brilliant catch with two out in the seventh to preserve the fragile, 1-0 lead.
Kershaw had allowed only four hits and had struck out seven when the decision was made to use Jonathan Broxton in the ninth inning to close out the win.
The unpredictable Broxton and his 100 mph fastball easily retired the first two Cardinals, on a spectacular stop and throw by shortstop Rafael Furcal and a three pitch strikeout of Matt Holliday, but gave up a single to Ryan Ludwick, a wild pitch and a two-out, two-strike, opposite field broken bat single by Colby Rasmus.
In the 11th, Blake and Loney singled to lead the inning off, Russ Martin lined to short and Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly gave the Dodgers a 2-1 margin. That didn't last long as Mark DeRosa singled, Albert Pujols lined ot third and Holliday and Ludwick (again) singled off Troncoso to tie.
Hong-Chih Kuo, in his second appearance after going on the disabled list in April, saved the game by striking out Rasmus with a 97-mph fastball and getting Yadier Molina on a diving catch by Andre Ethier.
Ramirez doubled with two out in the 12th, Kemp singled with two out in the 13th, Furcal singled to lead off the 14th, was bunted to second and Ramirez was intentionally walked and Andre Ethier and Blake struck out.
Jeff Weaver had worked two scoreless innings when Brandan Ryan tripled to lead off the 15th. After a popup, Julio Lugo was walked and Furcal threw Ryan out at he plate on DeRosa's ground ball. Then on a 3-2 count, Pujols ripped a line drive over Kemp's head in center to end the nearly five-hour struggle.
James Loney had four of the Dodgers' 13 hits and Casey Blake had three. Martin was 0-for-7 and Ethier 0-for-5.
The Giants inched another game closer with a 1-0 win over the Pirates while Colorado was rained out. Both trail Los Angeles by seven games with just over 60 games left in the regular season.
The Dodgers take four-game losing streak into the series finale and are counting on Hiroki Kuroda, who is coming off his best start in more than a month, to turn the tide. Kuroda (3-5, 4.57 ERA) will be making his first career start against the Cardinals.
RHP Kyle Lohse (4-6, 4.35 ERA) will try to complete the sweep for St. Louis. He allowed four hits and three earned runs while walking three and striking out three in only four innings, using 90 pitches in the process.
Score by Innings Los Angeles 000 100 000 010 000-2 St. Louis 000 000 001 010 001-3 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 7 0 2 0 .266 Hudson 2b 6 0 1 0 .290 Ramirez lf 5 0 2 0 .327 Ethier rf 5 0 0 0 .268 Blake 3b 5 2 3 0 .275 Loney 1b 7 0 4 1 .293 Martin c 7 0 0 0 .261 Kemp cf 5 0 1 1 .312 Kershaw p 3 0 0 0 .118 Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .227 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Troncoso p 1 0 0 0 .000 Kuo p 0 0 0 0 .000 Mota p 0 0 0 0 .000 Pierre ph 1 0 0 0 .313 Weaver p 0 0 0 0 .333 --------------------------------- Totals 53 2 13 2 St. Louis 51 3 11 3 2B- Ramirez (14). 3B- Blake (4) RBI- Loney (63), Kemp (66). S- Hudson. SF- Kemp. LOB- Los Angeles 15, St. Louis 10. SP- Furcal, Hudson and Loney. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Kershaw 8.0 4 0-0 2 7 2.76 Broxton 1.0 2 1-1 0 1 2.89 Troncoso 1.1 3 1-1 1 0 2.02 Kuo 0.2 0 0-0 0 0 5.14 Mota 1.0 0 0-0 0 1 2.92 Weaver (5-4) 2.2 2 1-1 1 2 3.83 WP- Broxton. T- 4:53. Att- 40,011.Dodger Blue Notes-- After burning up most of the bullpen, and even using infielder Mark Loretta on the mound in the first three games of he series, the Dodgers are considering recalling Scott Elbert, who was scratched from his scheduled start for Albuquerque last night. The only relievers that did not pitch in game #3 were rookies Brent Leach and James McDonald who are both struggling. ...Reliever Cory Wade retired the only batter he faced on a rehab assignment at Albuquerque last night. ... Reliever Ronald Belisario threw a bullpen session with no soreness in his elbow, will throw to hitters on the trip and could go on a rehab assignment next week. Left-handed reliever Will Ohman, rehabbing a sore shoulder in Arizona, will be checked in Los Angeles on the next homestand, but there's no indication if or when he'll pitch again. ...Doug Mientkiewicz is serving as designated hitter in a rehab assignment at Albuquerque to test his rebuilt shoulder. Torre said he must show he can play defense before he will be activated. ...A trio of Dodgers managers made Sporting News' list of sports' 50 greatest coaches of all-time, as selected by a panel of 118 Hall of Famers, championship coaches and other experts. Torre is No. 32. Four-time World Series champion Walter Alston checks in at No. 35. Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser with the team, is No. 48. Former UCLA coach John Wooden was a runaway winner.