LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Dodgers had the Cardinals in their ballpark for four days. All they have to show for it is a split, which leaves them in the same position they were in when the defending World Series champions came to Los Angeles — a game behind St. Louis for the second NL wild-card berth.
John Ely, the ninth of a franchise-record 10 pitchers Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used in Sunday's 12-inning 5-2 loss, gave up a go-ahead RBI double to Jon Jay, a run-scoring groundout by Allen Craig and a bases-loaded walk to Yadier Molina after both bullpens battled on even terms from the from the seventh through 11th innings.
"They are all tough at this point," Mattingly said. "We talk about playoff-style baseball. Momentum scrambles every day with the playoffs. If you win, you're feeling good. If you lose, it drops you because every game is important. You wake up and go again."
The Dodgers and Cardinals both have 15 games remaining to settle the wild-card battle. St. Louis' next nine games are against the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs, who are a combined 81 games under .500 and 69 1-2 games out of first place. Los Angeles embarks on a nine-game trip against East-leading Washington, Central-leading Cincinnati and San Diego before ending the regular season with a six-game homestand against Colorado and West-leading San Francisco.
"We've really been a pretty good road club until that last trip, and we're going to have our hands full again," Mattingly said. "Washington's leading their division, Cincinnati's leading their division, and San Diego's playing as well as anybody."
The Dodgers won six of the 11 meetings with St. Louis, and have beaten the Cardinals in consecutive season series for the first time since 1995-96. In case of a tie for the wild card, the Dodgers would get home-field advantage in a one-game playoff.
"We're just taking it one game at a time, and we've got a great chance of being there right at the end," center fielder Matt Kemp said. "We're going to be in every game and fight to the end, no matter who we play. We've got a tough road trip coming up, and we'll see what happens. We've got to turn the page and get ready for Washington."
Los Angeles wasted a leadoff double in the sixth by Kemp, who flied out to center field against Fernando Salas with the bases loaded to end the 10th after the right-hander walked Andre Ethier intentionally.
"I have all the respect for all their hitters," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "But that particular situation set itself up to get us a little more freedom against Kemp because we didn't have to worry about righty against lefty. So it worked out well."
Ethier tied the score 2-all in the third with his 19th homer, getting the barrel of the bat on a 2-0 pitch that was low and inside and driving it into the pavilion seats in right-center with two out after a leadoff walk to Matt Treanor.
Stephen Fife, making his fourth major league start and first since Aug. 1 in place of injured Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, recorded his first six outs on strikeouts. But between the first and second ones, the Cardinals took a 2-0 lead as Craig hit an RBI double and Matt Holliday scored on a wild pitch to Molina.