- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Clayton Kershaw dominated through the first six innings, working with a four-run lead and making it appear as if a victory was within easy reach.

Then baseball’s best pitcher flopped.

Matt Carpenter hit a go-ahead, three-run double off Kershaw in an eight-run seventh inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals rallied for a 10-9 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in a fiery NL Division Series opener Friday.

“I couldn’t hold it, it’s a terrible feeling,” Kershaw said. “It doesn’t feel good right now. I don’t think it will feel good for the rest of the night.”

Kershaw retired 16 in a row between homers by Randal Grichuk in the first and Carpenter in the sixth.

But he collapsed in a shaky seventh, when he gave up five of the Cardinals’ eight runs and became the first pitcher in postseason history to allow seven runs in consecutive starts. He yielded that many in losing Game 6 last year.

“I left some fastballs over the middle of the plate,” Kershaw said. “They got some good hits. That’s what they do, they ride momentum.”

Kershaw fell to 1-4 with a career 5.20 ERA in the postseason.

He resented any suggestion that he tipped his pitches out of the stretch.

“That’s discrediting their team when you start thinking about that,” Kershaw said. “That’s just a cop-out.”

St. Louis held on when Trevor Rosenthal blew a 100 mph fastball past Yasiel Puig with a runner on third to end a back-and-forth game that lasted nearly four hours.

Game 2 is Saturday night.

In a matchup of 20-game winners, Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright hit Puig with a pitch leading off the third, triggering a bench-clearing scrum. There was shoving and shouting, but no punches were thrown.

Wainwright succumbed first on the mound, allowing six runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings. But Kershaw failed once again in the postseason.

The left-hander whose 1.77 ERA led the major leagues for the fourth consecutive year came in eager to erase the memory of his poor showing in Game 6 of last year’s NL Championship Series, when the Dodgers were eliminated by the Cardinals.

“He gives up a hit or two and you always feel like he’s going to get out of it, he’s always going to rebound,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

The Dodgers rallied again in the ninth, pulling to 10-9 after Dee Gordon’s RBI groundout scored A.J. Ellis, who singled. But Puig struck out swinging against Rosenthal, who reached 100 mph on five of the seven pitches in the at-bat.

Adrian Gonzalez pulled the Dodgers to 10-8 with a two-run homer in the eighth off Randy Choate. They had the potential tying run at the plate when pinch-hitter Justin Turner grounded to third to end the inning.

The Cardinals ripped four consecutive singles to center field to open the seventh. Matt Adams and Jon Jay had RBI singles, drawing them to 6-4.

Carpenter then doubled to deep right, driving in three runs for a 7-6 lead and chasing Kershaw. He allowed eight runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, struck out 10 and walked none.

Pedro Baez came on and walked Grichuk. Matt Holliday followed with a three-run homer, silencing the 54,265 blue towel-waving fans and extending the Cardinals’ lead to 10-6.

Wainwright, a 20-game winner with the NL’s third-best ERA of 2.38, struggled mightily in the third and fourth innings at Dodger Stadium, where he has never been at his best. The right-hander allowed a pair of two-out runs in both innings, with the Dodgers taking a 4-1 lead.

The early scrum clearly fired up the Dodgers, who took a 2-1 lead in the third.

After getting drilled, Puig went to take first base and Gonzalez began jawing with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

Molina and Gonzalez went face-to-face yelling and soon both benches and bullpens emptied, creating a scrum around home plate. There was shoving and shouting, but no punches were thrown. Puig later gave Wainwright a friendly pat as he took his base.

Ellis, who hit .191 during the regular season, had 4 of the Dodgers’ 16 hits, including a two-run homer in the fifth that chased Wainwright. Ellis also scored three runs.

The bad vibes between the two teams extend to last year.

That’s when Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly hit Hanley Ramirez in the ribs in the NLCS opener, limiting the shortstop for the rest of the matchup. The teams traded hit by pitches earlier this season, too.

Ramirez got things going with two outs in the third, singling past diving second baseman Pete Kozma as Puig scored from second to tie the game at 1. Crawford’s ground-rule double into deep right field scored Ramirez, who had stolen second.

Puig singled with two outs in the fourth, scoring Ellis who singled leading off. Kemp’s RBI single made it 4-1.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74 ERA) is making his fourth consecutive postseason appearance with the Cardinals since reaching the majors in 2011. His five playoff wins are tied for third-most all-time on the club, trailing Chris Carpenter (10) and Bob Gibson (seven).

Dodgers: Zack Greinke (17-8, 2.71) says the Cardinals’ hitters make adjustments better than most other teams, citing CF Jon Jay who went from chasing off-speed pitches one year to becoming good at handling them the next.

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