Molina's pinch double carries Cards past Dodgers

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[May 16, 2016]  LOS ANGELES -- Yadier Molina has been the hero so many times for the St. Louis Cardinals and he played the role he plays best on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Molina's key hit drove in the go-ahead run and spurred a big seventh inning that helped the Cardinals to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Cardinals Yadier Molina (4) hits a pinch hit double in the 7th inning to drive in 2 runs against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

With the win, St. Louis avoided the three-game sweep. The Cardinals will now return home to host the Colorado Rockies in a three-game set starting on Tuesday. The Dodgers will open play against area rivals the Los Angeles Angels on Monday at home.

The Cardinals broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run seventh. With two on and two outs, pinch hitter Yadier Molina doubled off Joe Blanton -- the Dodgers' third reliever of the inning -- to knock in two.

Matt Carpenter was then intentionally walked, and Stephen Piscotty singled home Molina to make it 4-1.

"I was feeling pretty good thinking that Yadi has had several at-bats against him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Yadi came through and had a huge hit. He did a great job of staying ready on a day where we were trying to give him off and it worked out."

The seventh inning snapped a streak of 20 innings without an earned run allowed by the Dodgers bullpen. J.P. Howell (1-1) took the loss after the go-ahead run was charged to him.

St. Louis tacked on one more in the eighth off Blanton when Randal Grichuk doubled to lead off the inning and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aledmys Diaz. Blanton wound up yielding three runs in two-thirds of an inning.

Blanton's struggles came after three strong outings. The veteran reliever has added a slider that has proved successful against right-handers this season, which Dodgers manager Dave Roberts cited as his reasoning in going with Blanton to face Molina in the seventh. Roberts also felt that Blanton deserved a chance to pitch in the eighth with two right-handers up.

But Blanton just wasn't sharp enough against the righties he was tasked with getting out.

"I felt like I'd rather take Joe against any right-hander because he's been dominating right-handers," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I'd take him 10 times over in that situation. His fastball command and his slider to right-handed hitters is lethal. Tonight he gave a couple hits to the right-handers."

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager hit a pair of solo home runs for his first career multi-homer game. Seager tied the game at 1-1 with a blast off Cardinals starter Mike Leake in the third inning, and he drove a 2-0 fastball by Kevin Siegrist into the right-field stands in the eighth to make the score 5-2.

Seager, who homered in a second game in a row, has six on the season, tied for fourth among major league rookies.

Leake (2-3) pitched six innings of one-run ball, giving up four hits, walking two and striking out three.

"With a team like this, you have to be very precise with where you want it on the first pitch," Leake said. "I was just trying to be aggressive and attack these guys, get ahead of them. "They're a pretty good-hitting team and it's definitely a team you have to be aggressive against."

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Trevor Rosenthal earned the save, his seventh, with one inning of scoreless relief.

For the third time in his last four starts, Los Angeles' Alex Wood didn't receive a decision. Wood went six innings, allowing one run on three hits and one walk while striking out five.

"I thought we attacked them pretty good," Wood said. "Me and (catcher Yasmani Grandal) were on the same page and starting to really get in motion together. I thought I had all three (pitches) going early but then in that sixth inning it just kind of got away from me a little bit."

With two on and one out in the fourth inning, Yasiel Puig drove one back to deep center field, but St. Louis' Randal Grichuk tracked it down and made the catch at the wall, denying Puig of extra bases and keeping the game tied at 1-1.

"Great play," Matheny said. "Going back (to the wall) and also coming in, that was a very difficult play and he had a very good jump."

Carpenter put the Cardinals on the board in the third inning with a solo home run off Wood, his eighth of the season.

NOTES: Dodgers UT Howie Kendrick made his seventh start in left field. The career infielder has seen sporadic starts in the outfield in order to get at-bats. ... Los Angeles LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder surgery) made his first rehab start Sunday, pitching two scoreless innings for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. ... Dodgers OF Scott Van Slyke (back) is expected to make a rehab start later this week. Van Slyke took batting practice and threw on the field before the game Sunday. His progression is ahead of schedule. ... Cardinals SS Aledmys Diaz moved up to fifth in the batting order on Sunday. ... Matt Holliday, normally the Cardinals' left fielder, started at first base for the fifth time this season Sunday. ... Cardinals OF Jeremy Hazelbaker returned to the lineup Sunday, one day after hitting a pinch, two-run home run in the ninth inning off LHP Scott Kazmir.

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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