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    Hanley Ramirez’s absence a sore spot

    ST. LOUIS — When Hanley Ramirez was hit in the ribs by Joe Kelly’s 95-mile-per-hour fastball in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series Friday night, he labored as a trainer briefly attended to him. The Dodgers shortstop stayed in the game, however, and played all 13 innings of the Cardinals’ 3-2 win.

    With a quick turnaround because of Saturday’s 4 p.m. Game 2 start, Ramirez was a late scratch, taking perhaps the Dodgers’ hottest bat out of the lineup. His loss was felt as the Cardinals took Game 2, 1-0. Ramirez was replaced by former Red Sox Nick Punto.

    X-rays of Ramirez’s ribs were negative, but he said following the Dodgers’ loss Saturday that he would also undergo a CT scan in Los Angeles. He said he will be in the lineup for Monday’s pivotal Game 3 at Dodger Stadium.


    “I took a couple of swings off the tee and it didn’t work, it hurt bad,” he said. “Even if I got something going on wrong, I am going to go out there because this is our time. We cannot shut down. I am going do the best to go out back in the field Monday.”

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    Ramirez walked three times Friday as Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was careful after watching Ramirez tear up the Braves in the NLDS. Without Ramirez, manager Don Mattingly was left to scramble, moving Adrian Gonzalez to the No. 3 slot and Yasiel Puig to cleanup.

    Puig batted in the cleanup spot 18 times during the regular season, hitting .379 with a .486 on-base percentage. He entered Saturday hitting .348 in the postseason, but was 0 for 6 with two strikeouts in Game 1 and was 0 for 4 with four whiffs in Game 2.

    Beltran the hero

    Carlos Beltran won Game 1 with a single to left field to score Daniel Descalso in the bottom of the 13th inning, his third RBI of the game and yet another sizzling postseason moment. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen fell behind, 3 and 1, and threw Beltran a fastball down the middle.

    “I don’t blame him because he’s trying to make a pitch,” Beltran said. “He’s behind in the count and he’s trying to make the pitch. I know Jansen is a good closer.”


    Beltran entered Game 2 hitting .345 in 40 postseason games with 16 homers and 34 RBIs. He was 0 for 2 with a walk Saturday.

    “I try not to keep up with the numbers because when you try to keep up with the numbers, you get caught out there trying to do bad things,” he said. “I am aware what I have done.”

    Managerial decision

    Mattingly was peppered with questions about his curious move in the eighth inning of Game 1 when he ran for Gonzalez after his leadoff single in favor of the speedy Dee Gordon.

    Gordon was forced at second on a bouncer to short by Puig. Michael Young took over at first base and hit cleanup. That move burned LA as Young couldn’t produce a run on the game’s key play, when Beltran caught Young’s fly and threw Mark Ellis out at home.

    Young then bounced into a 6-3 double play to end the 12th. More importantly, with Gonzalez out of the lineup, Matheny intentionally walked Ramirez in the 10th and 12th to face Young. So Mattingly’s move essentially took LA’s two best bats out of the lineup.

    Ethier sits


    It was a difficult Game 1 for Andre Ethier. Coming off a sore left ankle, the former All-Star missed an opportunity to save two runs by missing Beltran’s double against the right-center-field wall. He was also 1 for 5 with two strikeouts and flied to center with two runners on in the third inning. His gimpy ankle was causing him discomfort, prompting Mattingly to replace him for Game 2 with former Cardinal Skip Schumaker . . . Former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was asked whether he would consider returning to managing. “If I could only manage in October, I’d be back,” he said. “This is so much fun.’’

    Gary Washburn can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @gwashNBAGlobe.