LOS ANGELES — Led by a pair of precocious rookies, the Los Angeles Dodgers got themselves right back into the NL championship series.
Hyun-Jin Ryu outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven innings of three-hit ball, and Yasiel Puig celebrated twice on his RBI triple that helped Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Monday night in Game 3.
Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI double ended a 1-for-17 drought for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position. An ailing Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring hit as Los Angeles handed Wainwright his first postseason loss and trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
“The playoffs are one-day momentum swings,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “Right now I feel like we’ve kind of grabbed it.”
Puig’s youthful exuberance, which energized the Dodgers as they surged from last place to first during a torrid midseason stretch, was on full display in the fourth inning.
The 22-year-old Cuban defector was so excited when he connected that he raised his arms immediately and stood in the batter’s box to watch the flight of the ball toward right field, clearly thinking it was going out of the park.
Once he realized it wasn’t, Puig started charging. He roared into third base and clapped his hands before raising them again as the sellout crowd of 53,940 cheered.
Puig had reason to exult, having struck out seven times in the series before getting his first hit.
“He brings unbelievable energy every day,” Ramirez said. “When we spoke to him, he told me, ‘I got it today,’ and he did. He’s a great player.”
Game 4 is Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, with Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start against St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn.
“Everybody’s trying to do the best they can to get to the World Series,” Puig said through a translator.
Los Angeles got Ramirez and center fielder Andre Ethier back in the lineup after both proved in batting practice they were healthy enough to play. Ramirez wore a lightweight flak jacket to protect his broken left rib — having been hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in Game 1 — while Ethier has been bothered by shin splints.
“What can I say? It couldn’t be better,” Ramirez said. “Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series.”
Ramirez singled his first time up off Wainwright and then helped the Dodgers extend their lead to 3-0 in the eighth.
Ramirez hit a soft single off Seth Maness over the head of second baseman Kolten Wong to score Carl Crawford. The speedy Crawford, on second base after a one-out single, rounded third and never stopped running when the throw from the outfield went to second base.
On a close play at the plate, Crawford barely beat the tag by catcher Yadier Molina.
“We just had a lot of balls in the air tonight that hit the ground that normally don’t,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We’re a better club than this.”
During the rally, retired Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, whose 1988 team won the franchise’s last World Series title, stood up and waved his white rally towel to raucous applause.
“We just knew we had to scratch away and get a win,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. “We needed a great starting pitching performance from Hyun-Jin, and we got that. You knew it was going to be tough sledding against a guy like Adam. He’s so good, especially on the big stage, so we were fortunate we scratched a couple of runs across.”
Wainwright entered 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA and four saves in 15 career postseason games, including six starts. He pitched St. Louis past Pittsburgh in the division series, going the distance in a decisive Game 5 last Wednesday.
The right-hander tossed seven strong innings this time, allowing two runs and six hits with five strikeouts and no walks. Ryu, however, was even better.
“I hate to lose,” Wainwright said. “I felt like tonight if I had got a couple of balls in there, we win the game. I think you just have to tip your hat and move on.”
The two pitchers were nearly even through the first three scoreless innings, with Wainwright giving up one hit. Ryu, who struggled in his first postseason start in the division series against Atlanta, retired 12 of his first 13 batters, yielding only a walk.
“I just zoned in,” Ryu said.
Ryu was much improved after lasting just three innings as the first South Korean pitcher to start a playoff game last week against the Braves. He allowed four runs on six hits for a no-decision in a game the Dodgers won.
The left-hander didn’t permit a Cardinals runner past second base. David Freese’s single to right leading off the fifth was their first hit of the game.
Freese was replaced by a pinch-runner because of tightness in his right calf. He is day to day.
Ryu struck out four and walked one.
Mattingly came out to the mound accompanied by a translator with two outs in the seventh. Ryu responded by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning as Ellis pumped his right arm in the air. Fans waved South Korean flags in support of Ryu.
“It’s definitely a big motivation when you see your star players go out there hurt,” Ryu said through a translator. “It really inspires you and motivates you to go out there and do the best you can.”
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for a save.
Major League Baseball noted on Twitter that the nine combined runs in the series are the fewest ever through three games of a league championship series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
After the first two games in St. Louis were decided by one run, the Dodgers got to Wainwright in the fourth and took a 2-0 lead.
Gonzalez’s double down the right-field line scored Mark Ellis, who doubled leading off. With two outs, Puig tripled off the wall in right to snap his 0-for-11 skid in the series.
Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay was involved in an apparent miscommunication when the ball hit by Mark Ellis dropped between him and right fielder Carlos Beltran. The Dodgers’ first hit, a single by Ramirez to shallow center in the first, dropped between Jay and second baseman Matt Carpenter.
“It’s a ball I’ve got to catch. I’m the center fielder. It’s my ball. I’ve got to take charge,” Jay said. “It came back to haunt us, but that’s part of baseball. You’re going to make mistakes sometimes.”
NOTES: The Dodgers snapped a stretch of 22 innings without a run in the fourth. They hadn’t scored since the third inning of Game 1. ... Ethier was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. ... Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey — baseball’s first 30-homer quartet in 1977 — tossed ceremonial first pitches. That Dodgers team won the NL pennant before losing to the Yankees in six games in the World Series. ... Neither team has a home run through the first three games. ... Among the famous faces in attendance were Dustin Hoffman and Ice Cube.