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Dodgers enjoy the benefits of walking in wild ninth, beat Cards, 6-5

By Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Ten more days until Matt Kemp is eligible to return from the disabled list.

But as Kemp remains stuck on the railing of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dugout recovering from a strained hamstring, something strange is happening.

The Dodgers continue winning.

The Dodgers’ 6-5 walk-off victory over the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals wasn’t the most aesthetically-pleasing of their National League-leading 26 wins, but it was probably their most significant.

Immediately after closer Kenley Jansen served up a tying solo home run to pinch hitter Lance Berkman in the top of the ninth inning, the Dodgers loaded the bases for catcher A.J. Ellis, who drew a walk-off walk off Fernando Salas.

“This shows our character,” Ellis said.

The Cardinals entered the game as the best-hitting and highest-scoring team in the NL, but the Dodgers out-hit them, 13 hits to six.

A large share of their production came from the unlikeliest of sources. Adam Kennedy, who entered the game with a .186 average, reached base five times, as he as 4 for 4 with a walk. Slumping first baseman James Loney was 3 for 4 with a walk and two runs batted in. Every Dodgers starting position player except for leadoff hitter Dee Gordon reached base.

Almost lost in the celebrations were newfound health concerns, these pertaining to Mark Ellis. Ellis was at second base upended by Tyler Greene on a seventh-inning force and exited the game with a swelling in his lower part of his left leg.

Ellis said he didn’t know how long he would be out but was confident he would avoid the disabled list.

The bottom half of the Dodgers’ lineup starting coming to life in the second inning. Kennedy, who was batting fifth for the second consecutive day, doubled to right-center. He scored on a double hit to the same part of the park by Loney, who, in turn, scored on a single to left by A.J. Ellis. Tony Gwynn Jr. tripled to right field to drive in Ellis and increase the margin to 3-0.

The lead didn’t last long.

Greene reached base on a bunt single. A.J. Ellis tried to pick off Greene, but his throw from home sailed past first baseman Loney, who wasn’t prepared to receive it. Greene moved to second base.

The miscue was followed by a strikeout by Shane Robinson, but, he too, reached base on a third-strike wild pitch by Lilly.

Greene later scored on a sacrifice fly by former Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal to reduce the Cardinals’ deficit to 3-1.

With Robinson on third base, Mattingly was ejected for protesting an on-field ruling that Matt Carpenter checked his swing on a potential strike-three pitch.

The inning devolved from there. Carpenter singled in Robinson to move the Cardinals to within 3-2. The next batter, Matt Holliday, sent the ball halfway up the left-field pavilion to put the Cardinals ahead, 4-3.

Because of Ellis’ throwing error, all four runs were unearned.

Lilly didn’t give up any runs over the remainder of the seven innings he pitched and lowered his earned-run average from 2.11 to 1.79, the lowest among Dodgers starters. He limited the Cardinals to four hits and no walks, and struck out six.

The Dodgers responded immediately, as Kennedy singled in Mark Ellis to tie the game, 4-4. Kennedy reached base five times, as he was 4 for 4 with a walk and raised his batting average to .239.

The four runs the Dodgers scored against Lance Lynn were the most charged to the Cardinals starter this season.

Lynn, in only his second major league season, came into Los Angeles as the National League’s win leader with six. His 1.81 earned-run average ranked third in the league and his opponents’ batting average of .171 second.

The Dodgers broke the 4-4 stalemate in the seventh inning when Loney’s single to left field scored Andre Ethier.

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