LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carlos Beltran thought Jon Jay had it. Jay thought Beltran had it.
Turns out nobody had Mark Ellis' fly ball to right-center. It plopped on the Dodger Stadium grass between the St. Louis Cardinals' experienced outfielders, who looked for a moment like bewildered Little Leaguers.
A team struggling for offense as mightily as the Cardinals can't afford to give away hits to its opponent, and Beltran realized their joint mistake made the difference in Game 3 of the NL championship series.
He was correct. Ellis ended up scoring the only run the Los Angeles Dodgers needed in a 3-0 victory Monday night.
And not even Adam Wainwright could rescue the Cards when they couldn't hit — or catch a fairly ordinary fly ball.
"Sometimes being aggressive, you can make a lot of mistakes," said Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winner. "Just miscommunication. I don't think it's a lack of concentration. I think sometimes you get caught up in the moment."
St. Louis missed its moment to take firm control of this series despite a gem from Wainwright, who yielded six hits and two runs in seven innings. The Cardinals couldn't score a run for their ace in their third straight awful offensive game, managing just four singles and never getting a runner to third base against Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Los Angeles bullpen.
The Cardinals are batting .134 with just three extra-base hits and four total runs during the lowest-scoring LCS in major league history so far. They got just one runner in scoring position in this shutout — and that was pinch-runner Daniel Descalso, who got doubled off second base in the fifth.
St. Louis' normally solid defense also was suspect. Although the Cardinals didn't commit an error, they made a series of poor decisions starting with Ellis' fly ball in the fourth inning, leading to the Dodgers' go-ahead rally.
Jay took full responsibility for the fourth-inning blunder — and Beltran tacitly agreed.
"It's a ball I've got to catch," Jay said. "I'm the center fielder. It's my ball. I've got to take charge."
Beltran also couldn't make a play on Yasiel Puig's RBI triple for Los Angeles' second run moments later. A relay mistake then allowed the Dodgers' third run to score in the eighth.
Add in a horrible baserunning blunder by Descalso, and the Cardinals were cooked.
"It wasn't very characteristic of how we played all season," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "Our team has done a great job of improving defensively. We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don't. We're a better club than this."