Kenta Maeda put an emphasis on pitching well in his return from hamstring tightness that forced him to the 10-day disabled list. But the Los Angeles Dodgers found themselves trailing the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, before batting in the bottom of the first inning.
The outlook was grim for the Dodgers. They were a negligible 7-for-70 through the first two games of the series with the Cardinals, and were facing Michael Wacha who entered with one of the top ERAs in the National League.
Maeda settled in and kept the Cardinals off the board over his next four innings of work. That allowed the Dodgers to slowly chip away against Wacha.
Their scoring began in the second inning, on a Chase Utley leadoff home run. The homer was Utley’s first this season.
Then in the fourth, Yasiel Puig’s two-out RBI single trimmed the Cardinals’ lead to 3-2. Although Logan Forsythe had been on deck to pinch-hit, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts sent Maeda up to the plate.
The decision came across as a curious one. Hyun-Jin Ryu had begun to warm up and though Maeda hadn’t allowed a run after the first inning, he’d faced some trouble.
Puig stole second base, and Maeda delivered a go-ahead, two-run base hit. “He was going to hit regardless,” Roberts said. “Just a little gamesmanship (by putting Forsythe in the on-deck circle).”
Wacha allowed a leadoff single to Chris Taylor in the fifth inning and followed it by walking Corey Seager. He was promptly replaced by Brett Cecil.
It was the first time in eight starts this season where Wacha failed to complete at least six innings. His six runs allowed are a season-high.
Cecil threw two wild pitches, which led to a run. Adrian Gonzalez and Taylor each hit an RBI double to contribute to the Dodgers’ scoring in their 7-3 win.