Left-handed hitters on both sides combined to hit 6-for-14 (.429) with two home runs, eight RBIs and two walks. And one of those southpaw hurlers was NL Cy Young Award favorite Clayton Kershaw.
In what was arguably the biggest at-bat of the game, Matt Carpenter knocked a two-RBI double against Kershaw to give the Cardinals a lead they would never relinquish. Carpenter also had a solo homer in the sixth and is now 9-for-28 (.321) with three doubles, a triple and a home run in his career against the Dodgers ace.
"I was like, come on Carp, we need a hit. Something big," Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday said. "He does it, he's done it ever since he's come up to the big leagues. He's battled and had great at-bats in big spots, and I'm sure he's going to have lefties around the league calling for a game plan against Kershaw, because I don't think anybody else really hits him. But Carp's hard a lot of success off him."
That double was one of four hits -- two singles, a double and a home run -- the St. Louis left-handed batters had against Kershaw on Friday (4-for-10). The Cardinals had eight home runs hit by left-handed batters against left-handers in the regular season, averaging one per every 77.9 plate appearances. Dodgers southpaws surrendered just six homers in 535 plate appearances in 2014 (one per 89.2 PAs).
"[Kershaw] is our guy; he's our horse," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "A left-hand hitter's coming up, who Clayton dominates. In that situation, you just have to give Matt Carpenter a ton of credit there and all the Cardinals credit for that seventh inning and the swings they put on Clayton."
The Cardinals, with a comfortable four-run lead in the eighth, brought in their lefty specialist Randy Choate to face Adrian Gonzalez with a runner on and one out. The plan quickly backfired as Gonzalez launched a 1-1 slider into the stands, bringing the Dodgers to within two.
"I just basically hung it on the inner half; I'm pretty sure he was sitting on it," Choate said. "I made a bad pitch, he's a really good hitter. He takes advantage of that mistake and got under it, got a lot of backspin on it, the ball just kept going, kept going. When you make pitches like that in the playoffs, good hitters like that are going to exploit it."