LOS ANGELES — Since the calendar turned to August, the St. Louis Cardinals have been on a tear.
They kept it up against Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who allowed ninth-inning homers to Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter in his return from the disabled list in a 5-3 loss to the Cardinals on Monday night.
St. Louis improved to 15-4 this month, the most wins in the majors. The Cardinals have won six straight away from home and are 35-29 on the road.
“We know we’re capable but up to three weeks ago we hadn’t really played our best,” Gyorko said. “But if we go out there and keep playing good baseball, then good things will happen.”
Gyorko pinch hit and sent a 1-1 pitch into center field leading off. Carpenter followed with his NL-leading 34th homer, also to center, stunning the small crowd that remained through the 4-hour, 10-minute game.
Jansen (0-4) retired the next two batters before giving up a single to Marcell Ozuna. He got pinch-hitter Tyler O’Neill to end the inning, but the damage was done.
“I’m not an excuse guy,” Jansen said. “The first two hitters, it just wasn’t in my comfort zone. This one was a bad one.”
Jansen’s return had been eagerly anticipated since the Dodgers’ bullpen had a 5.17 ERA while he was out. He was activated earlier in the day after being cleared by a cardiologist. The All-Star had been hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat on Aug. 9 and was expected to be out a month. Jansen hadn’t pitched since Aug. 7.
“You’re amped up to be back, you just try hard,” Jansen said. “I’m glad that I’m back. Stuff happens in my life to slow me down, but you just got to move forward.”
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had no regret about Jansen’s early return.
“He’s the best we have right there in that spot. He was chomping at the bit,” Roberts said. “It was just lack of execution. I thought he threw the ball well.”
Closer Bud Norris walked Matt Kemp leading off the bottom of the ninth before striking out the next three batters to end the game and get his 25th save.
Jose Martinez hit a solo shot in the first, making it the 13th straight game in which the Cardinals homered, the longest active streak in the majors this season.
Martinez’s RBI single in the fifth gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead.
The Dodgers failed to score after threatening in the bottom of the eighth. Pinch-hitter Yasiel Puig reached on an infield single to the pitcher and took third on a wild pitch by Jordan Hicks.
After Hicks struck out Justin Turner, Brett Cecil (1-1) came in and intentionally walked Manny Machado. He took second on defensive indifference, putting runners on second and third, but Cody Bellinger lined out to end the inning.
Los Angeles stranded 14 baserunners.
Turner extended his 14-game hitting streak with a single in the first. Bellinger’s 12-game hitting streak ended when he went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and a walk.
Pinch-hitter Max Muncy tied the game 3-all with a two-out, RBI single in the seventh off Hicks, who then walked Chris Taylor to load the bases. But Yasmani Grandal struck out swinging to end the inning.
The Dodgers scored in the fifth on Machado’s RBI single and Bellinger’s sacrifice fly to trail 3-2. Los Angeles had the potential tying run at second, but rookie starter Austin Gomber retired the next three batters.
Dodgers starter Alex Wood allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings, extending his streak of 12 straight outings with three earned runs or less. He struck out four and walked two.
Gomber gave up two runs and five hits in five innings of his fifth career start. He struck out four and walked four.
Cardinals: RHP Adam Wainwright (right elbow inflammation) will throw another few innings for Double-A Springfield. He has been out of the majors since May 13. … RHP Michael Wacha (left oblique strain) will throw at Class A Palm Beach on Thursday.
Dodgers: RHP JT Chargois left the game after tossing six pitches in the fifth because of neck discomfort. Roberts said he will have a MRI on Tuesday and it’s likely Chargois will go on the DL. … LHP Zac Rosscup went on the 10-day DL with a left calf strain. He has a 6.75 ERA in eight relief appearances this season. … RHP Ross Stripling is expected to toss from a mound in the next couple days and eventually face hitters before being activated. His role upon his return has yet to be determined.
Muncy’s game-tying single came on a 103.0 mph sinker, which according to ESPN Stats and Info, is the fastest pitch anyone has recorded a hit on this season.
The teams are playing for the first time this season, making it the latest they’ve met for the initial match-up since 2004. Back then, they faced off in St. Louis on Sept. 3 and played six games in 10 days.
The Dodgers are the last NL opponent the Cardinals had yet to play this year.
It was the longest nine-inning game for both teams this season, and the longest such affair at Dodger Stadium since a 4-hour, 19-minute contest against Colorado on June 25 last year.
Rookie RHP Daniel Poncedeleon (0-0, 2.04 ERA) replaces Luke Weaver in the rotation for the Cardinals. Poncedeleon tossed seven scoreless innings against the Reds on July 23 without allowing a hit in his only previous start of the season. Weaver is headed to the bullpen. LHP Hyn-Jin Ryu (3-0, 1.77) takes the mound for the Dodgers in the middle game of the series. Ryu pitched six scoreless innings against the Giants last week.
By BETH HARRIS, Associated Press