ST. LOUIS (AP) — Joe Kelly grew up in Southern California rooting for the Angels and hating the Los Angeles Dodgers. Losing to them hurt that much more.
"My family hated them. They still do," Kelly said after the St. Louis Cardinals' 5-3 loss on Monday night. "I put too much pressure on myself out there.
"Maybe it got to me."
Kelly (1-3), a rookie right-hander from Corona, Calf., about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, has been impressive as the replacement for injured lefty Jaime Garcia. He worked six innings in 101-degree heat and gave up four hits and two earned runs for his sixth consecutive quality start.
"Joe did a good job, especially not knowing if he was going to get out of the first," manager Mike Matheny said.
Kelly had a tougher day from a physical standpoint. He contributed to Mark Ellis' double-play ball the second at-bat of the game by deflecting a high chopper with his pitching hand, prompting a visit from team trainers and a brief delay to make sure he could still pitch.
"They were stinging for quite a while. Nothing too painful. It felt like I got stung by a bee," Kelly said.
Kelly got a second visit from the trainer after beating out an infield hit in the fifth, then stumbling over the bag and sprawling to the ground. Earlier in the at-bat, Kelly barely missed a homer on a ball that replays indicated was less than a foot outside the foul pole in left.
At first, Kelly thought he hit first baseman Juan Rivera's foot.
"I just hit the base, it came up quicker than I thought," he said. "The left ankle just hit the base, rolled and I took a tumble."
Chad Billingsley returned from the disabled list with a strong outing that ended a five-start losing streak and Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer as the Dodgers won their fifth in a row.
Cruz, recalled July 2 to replaced injured shortstop Dee Gordon, has two career homers and 12 RBIs. Eight of his 14 hits are for extra bases. His three-run shot in the second barely cleared the left-field wall — the ball conked left fielder Matt Holliday on the rebound — to give the Dodgers the early jump in their eighth straight win over St. Louis dating to April 17, 2011.