Chris Taylor hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Los Angeles Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 on Wednesday night in the NL wild-card game.
The 106-win Dodgers advanced to a best-of-five Division Series against the NL West champion Giants, who won 107 games to barely hold off rival Los Angeles for the division title. Game 1 is Friday night in San Francisco.
“That’s gonna be fun. Yeah, two of the best regular-season records of all-time. We’ve been battling all year, so I expect a hard-fought series,” Taylor said.
The sellout crowd of 53,193 hung on every pitch as the tension of a tie game built from the fourth inning on. Fans waved blue towels, futilely urging out the few balls launched into the outfield only to see them caught in a winner-take-all matchup between two of the most storied and successful National League franchises.
Cody Bellinger drew a two-out walk from T.J. McFarland and stole second in the ninth, when nearly every fan was on their feet, waiting to see if the defending World Series champions could pull off a win. Alex Reyes came in to face Taylor, who sent a 2-1 breaking ball into the left-field pavilion, triggering an explosion of cheers.
“Honestly, I was just trying to hit a single. Not trying to do too much,” Taylor said after hitting the fourth walk-off homer in Dodgers postseason history. “And he gave me a good slider to hit and I was able to get it up in the air.”
Tommy Edman dropped a one-out single into right off closer Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth and stole second. Paul Goldschmidt took a called third strike and Tyler O’Neill went down swinging to end the threat.
Both teams had runners on in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but couldn’t push a run across.
St. Louis finished 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position, stranding 11 overall.
Dueling aces Adam Wainwright of St. Louis and the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer struggled with their control early in just the second winner-take-all game in postseason history with two starting pitchers aged 37-plus. Wainwright is 40; Scherzer is 37.
They issued two walks apiece through the first three innings. Scherzer’s wild pitch led to a run in the first and he hit Harrison Bader in the fourth.
Justin Turner tied it at 1 in the fourth on a leadoff solo shot into the Dodgers bullpen in left. It was the first homer Wainwright has ever given up on a curveball in the postseason. Turner’s 13 postseason homers are the most in franchise history.
St. Louis led 1-0 when Edman scored on Scherzer’s wild pitch. Edman singled leading off, stole second base and took third when O’Neill fouled out to right.
Scherzer left with one out in the fifth after giving up a leadoff single to Edman and a walk to Goldschmidt. He paced the dugout with his hands on his hips. Former Cardinal Joe Kelly got out of the jam after Goldschmidt reached third on Kelly’s wild pitch.
Scherzer allowed one run and three hits, struck out four and walked three against his hometown team.
Wainwright gave up one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked two.
The Dodgers had Wainwright on the ropes in the third, loading the bases with one out. He was within one ball of walking in the tying run before Trea Turner broke his bat grounding into an inning-ending double play on a 3-2 pitch.