LOS ANGELES—Luis Cruz greeted St. Louis reliever Edwin Mujica with a first-pitch, three-run homer in the sixth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers tightened up the NL wild card race with an 8-5 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night.
Trevor Rosenthal (0-2) inherited a 4-3 lead from fellow rookie Joe Kelly after five innings and gave up a lead off single by Andre Ethier, who got the Dodgers back into the game in the third with a two-run homer. Rosenthal hit Hanley Ramirez on a 1-0 count two outs later and manager Mike Matheny made the switch to Mujica — who has given up 17 runs and six homers in 21 1-3 career innings against the Dodgers.
Adrian Gonzalez made it 8-4 with a two-run double in the seventh off the glove of a diving Matt Holliday.
Rookie Shawn Tolleson (2-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings of hitless relief for the victory after the Dodgers got starter Chris Capuano off the hook. Capuano was charged with four runs — two earned — and six hits in four innings.
The temperature was 96 degrees when Capuano threw his first pitch. The 34-year-old left-hander grew even hotter under the collar in the second inning when Yadier Molina drove an 0-2 pitch to left-center for his 19th homer, and Matt Carpenter added his sixth of the season two batters later. It was the 12th time Capuano allowed two homers in an inning during his eight big league seasons.
The Dodgers, averaging only 1.6 runs over their previous eight games, got on the board in the bottom half when Gonzalez led off with a double and scored on a groundout by Cruz, but the Cardinals extended their lead to 4-1 in the third when Carlos Beltran reached on a two-out throwing error by shortstop Ramirez, and Holliday cashed it in with his 27th home run.
The Dodgers responded in the bottom half when Ethier got the green light from manager Don Mattingly on a 3-0 pitch and drove his 18th homer deep into the pavilion seats in right-center after a two-out walk to Shane Victorino, who was back in the leadoff spot for the first time since Aug. 27 with second baseman Mark Ellis getting the night off.
Second baseman Nick Punto, starting his third game with the Dodgers since he was acquired on Aug. 25 in the nine-player trade with Boston, slid head-first into first base each of his first two times up on slow bouncers to third baseman David Freese. He was out the first time and safe the second time, but was picked off by catcher Molina in the fifth with pinch-hitter Bobby Abreu batting and the Dodgers down 4-3.
Kelly allowed three runs and four hits in five innings with two strikeouts and two walks.