LOS ANGELES (AP) - The St. Louis Cardinals have had a tough time keeping their starting pitchers healthy. Add rookie John Gast to the list.
Gast left in the bottom of the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night because of left shoulder tightness. He faced six batters, giving up one run and one hit. The rookie left-hander threw 25 pitches, walking two and striking out none.
The Cardinals lost 5-3, but still have the best record in baseball at 31-17.
``We've had some guys stepping up and doing the job and taking advantage of the opportunity,' manager Mike Matheny said.
St. Louis already has three starters on the disabled list: Chris Carpenter (who hasn't pitched this season), Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook. Gast was starting in place of Westbrook as he tried to improve to 3-0.
``I wasn't getting real loose in the bullpen and then it got worse once I got out there,' he said. ``It was kind of tight and weak, and it was affecting my command and velocity the whole time. Hopefully I can get it worked out and be back soon. Last year I sat out a start because of something in the front of my shoulder, and today it was in the back of it.'
Adrian Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs, and Mark Ellis lined a go-ahead double in the sixth inning as the Dodgers snapped the Cardinals' three-game winning streak.
The last-place Dodgers, who had lost five of seven, blew a two-run lead before Ellis' two-out hit off Seth Maness (3-1) scored Carl Crawford from first base to make it 4-3.
Paco Rodriguez (1-2) earned his first major league victory, getting three outs on 10 pitches. Brandon League worked the ninth to earn his 10th save in 12 chances.
The NL Central-leading Cardinals tied the game at 3 on David Freese's broken-bat RBI double and Pete Kozma's infield single in the sixth. Nick Punto made a diving stop behind third base, but he couldn't throw out Kozma.
``It wasn't the cleanest baseball we've played all year, but I liked the way our guys were fighting. That's kind of how we go about it, right down to the end,' Mathey said.
``You look at that ball Kozma hit down the line. If Punto doesn't come up with that play, it's a whole different game. A couple of runs were going to score, but he made a terrific play just to hold Kozma to a single.'
The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead on Gonzalez's RBI double off Joe Kelly in the third. Gonzalez led off the fifth with his fifth homer, extending the lead to 3-1. He tied the score at 1 in the first with an RBI double.
Los Angeles starter Ted Lilly allowed two runs and two hits in 5 1-3 innings in his first major league game since a 12-2 loss to Colorado on April 29. The left-hander struck out three and walked one in his third start of the year.
Lilly began the season late on April 24 after recovering from offseason shoulder surgery, then went on the disabled list from April 30 to May 20 with a strained right rib cage.
NOTES: Dodgers SS Dee Gordon snapped an 0-for-25 slump when he singled in the fourth. ... The Dodgers improved to 1,009-1,007-16 in the teams' all-time series. ... The Cardinals are undefeated in their last seven series (6-0-1) going into Sunday's finale.
The Associated Press News Service
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