By JILL PAINTER LOPEZ
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A stunning September meant little for the St. Louis Cardinals in postseason that ended with one hanging slider.
Alex Reyes gave up a game-ending home run to Chris Taylor just after entering the game in the ninth inning, a drive that gave the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-1 win Wednesday night and sent the Cardinals home.
Reyes, a 27-year-old right-hander, entered after T.J. McFarland walked Cody Bellinger with two outs.
Bellinger stole second, Reyes fell behind 2-1 and Taylor sent a no-doubt drive 420 feet and several rows deep into the left field pavilion.
Adam Wainwright gave Reyes a big hug in the clubhouse after the game.
“I told him I loved him, and I told him we loved him,” Wainwright said. “That’s all you can say. He probably doesn’t want to hear any of it. But he has an incredible future ahead of him, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Reyes was an All-Star, had converted his first 24 save chances in a big league record, but on July 20 he blew a lead against the Chicago Cubs and by early September lost his closer’s job.
As the crowd of 53,193 celebrated at first postseason game at Dodger Stadium with fans in two years, Reyes walked toward the dugout with his head down. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt gave him a pat.
“We’re not here without Alex Reyes,” Shildt said.
St. Louis was under .500 as late as Aug. 10 and didn’t revive until a franchise-record 17-game winning streak in September. The Cardinals closed 19-3 to claim the second NL wild card.
They hit over .300 with runners in scoring position during their streak but were 0 for 11 RISP against the Dodgers, stranding 11 runners.
Tommy Edman had three of the Cardinals’ five hits. Wainwright, at 40 matched up against 37-year-old Max Scherzer, threw just 59 of 95 pitches for strikes but allowed four hits, including Justin Turner’s leadoff homer in the fourth, and lasted 5 1/3 innings.
“I felt we had a team that was going to win the World Series, honestly,” Wainwright said. “We played a good team tonight.”
Turner’s home run countered the Cardinals’ run in the first, when Edman scored on a wild pitch.
Hours later, the Dodgers readied for a Division Series matchup with San Francisco. The Cardinals headed home, still seeking their first title since 2011.
“What a great team we can be when we play like we’re supposed to, and we played like that down the stretch,” Wainwright said. “We didn’t win, but we made them nervous, didn’t we?”
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