- Associated Press - Monday, May 16, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) - After a brief respite from its early season struggles, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen reverted back to its ineffective ways Sunday night.

Matt Carpenter homered for the fifth time in eight games, Yadier Molina had a tiebreaking two-run double in the top of the seventh inning and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-2 to avoid being swept in the three-game series.

Molina pinch hit for starting pitcher Mike Leake and put the Cardinals up 3-1 when he lined reliever Joe Blanton’s pitch into the left field corner with two outs. Stephen Piscotty followed with an RBI single off Blanton two batters later to bring Molina home.

Blanton surrendered three hits and three runs, walked two and threw a wild pitch in 2/3 innings of work. He left before reporters could speak with him.

“He’s faced numerous great right-handed hitters,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Since he’s gone to this role in the ‘pen, he’s dominated. I’d take him 10 times over in that situation.”

J.P. Howell (1-1) took the loss after allowing a one-out single to Jeremy Hazelbaker, who scored on Molina’s double.

The Dodgers bullpen hadn’t allowed an earned run in eight games prior to Sunday. Its meltdown spoiled a quality outing from starter Alex Wood, who surrendered only three hits and one run in six innings but took a no-decision and remains winless in his last six starts.

“I’m just trying to keep moving in the right direction,” Wood said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good my last few starts and eventually the wins will come.”

Corey Seager homered twice for the Dodgers, the first multihomer game of his career.

Carpenter and Seager traded solo homers in the third inning, and it stayed tied until the seventh.

With two out and Hazelbaker on first in the seventh, Blanton intentionally walked Brandon Moss with Molina on deck. Molina made the Dodgers pay for that decision, turning on a 1-0 slider to bring Hazelbaker and Moss home.

“You always gotta be ready,” Molina said. “Anything can happen in the National League, so you always try to be ready.”

After Carpenter was intentionally walked, Piscotty added to the lead with an RBI single to left to make it 4-1 and extend his hitting streak to eight games.

The Cardinals added another run off Blanton in the eighth when Randal Grichuk led off with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and trotted home on Aledmys Diaz’s sacrifice fly.

But it was Molina’s clutch knock that made a winner of Leake (2-3), who gave up four hits and one run in six innings to win his second straight start. It also helped the Cardinals finish their six-game trip 4-2 and left room for second-guessing Roberts’ decision to intentionally walk Moss to face him.

“I just felt I’d rather take Joe against any right-hander because he’s been dominant against them all year,” Roberts said. “Obviously Yadi is a great hitter, a clutch hitter, but the way Joe throws the ball against right-handed hitters, that was the decision I chose to make.”


Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (shoulder surgery) pitched two scoreless innings in a rehab start for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. He allowed one hit and struck out two in his first appearance since Sept. 12, 2014.


Dodgers reliever Louis Coleman departed after Diaz lined a comebacker off his right hip in the top of the seventh.

The ball deflected to third baseman Justin Turner, who threw to first in time to get the out.

Roberts said after the game Coleman did not sustain a major injury and is “fine.”


Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (3-2, 2.30) starts the first of four games against the crosstown rival Angels on Monday. The Japanese rookie is 0-2 with a 5.09 ERA in his last three starts after beginning his MLB career 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA.

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