Dodgers’ late rally falls short this time in loss to Cardinals

It was one of the best stretches of the season for the Dodgers. However, it showed a worrying trend that continued Tuesday night.

Yes, the Dodgers won all seven games they played last week.

But in six of those competitions they had to come from behind.

A similar scenario played out again on Tuesday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals built a big lead early on. The Dodgers started a late-game rally that held them through the ninth.

This time, however, their recent slow start had carried them too far. Finally, in a 7-6 loss at Busch Stadium, they found themselves facing a hill too steep to climb.

With 6-1 going into the fifth game, the Dodgers scored two runs in the fifth, one more in the sixth, and one more in the seventh to go 6-5.

Later in the seventh round, they had loaded the bases with no outs, seemingly on the verge of taking the lead for the first time.

But Packy Naughton, the Cardinals’ aide, erased that threat. The top of the Dodgers’ order went empty handed in the eighth. And an insurance run by the Cardinals helped them stay in the ninth game, ending the Dodgers’ seven-game winning streak and leaving them 56-30 for the season.

“[We] Set it up to add some runs there, finish the game or continue,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We just didn’t execute.”

Mitch White was the main culprit in Tuesday’s loss and suffered his worst start to the season while continuing to replace an injured Andrew Heaney in the Dodgers rotation (Heaney is scheduled to begin minor league rehab on Saturday).

After retiring the first five batters, White threw an inside sinker to Albert Pujols with two outs in the second. The former Dodger and future Hall of Famer smacked it over the left field fence.

It was the 685th home run of Pujols’ career and a day after the 22-year veteran announced he would be participating in the home run derby at Dodger Stadium next week.

Pujols high-fived St. Louis native rapper Nelly in the front row after crossing the plate, then committed a curtain call from the crowd with a tip of his helmet from the dugout.

Meanwhile, White’s outing quickly got out of hand. The Cardinals (48-42) extended their lead on a run-scoring wild pitch and an RBI single from Andrew Knizner.

A Freddie Freeman RBI double in the top of the third was answered by a Nolan Gorman solo blast in the bottom half of the inning. Then White, who hadn’t given up more than three runs in his first 12 appearances this year, delivered a couple more RBI singles in the fourth that seemingly put the game 6-1 out of reach.

Dodgers' Trea Turner is congratulated by teammate Mookie Betts after hitting a double home run.

Dodgers’ Trea Turner is congratulated by teammate Mookie Betts, 50, after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in St. Louis.

(Jeff Roberson/Associated Press)

Five of the six runs he gave up came with two outs.

However, the Dodgers began to chip away.

Trea Turner hit a two-run homer from the foul pole in left field in the fifth. Hanser Alberto doubled and scored sixth.

In the seventh, Turner, Freeman and Will Smith executed with a catcher’s interference call and two singles, respectively, to plate a run and set the tie and go-ahead run in scoring position.

With still no one outside, Justin Turner followed with a walk to load the bases.

That’s when Roberts and Cardinals manager Oli Marmol took part in an in-game chess match.

Roberts sent left-hander Max Muncy to the plate as a pinch-hitter in place of right-hander Trayce Thompson. Marmol responded by removing right-hand assistant Junior Fernández, who couldn’t record an out in the inning, in favor of Naughton, a southpaw the Cardinals requested from the Angels this spring.

Naughton fell behind Muncy 3-and-1 but then got him hitting a weak pop-up to focus on a sinker over the plate.

Alberto raised a similar flat flyball to the left in the next at-bat.

Cody Bellinger followed up with a strikeout to end the inning.

Roberts said after the game he didn’t think much about leaving Thompson on the plate, even if it would have kept the seemingly struggling Fernández on the mound.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better situation,” Roberts said. “We have to execute right there.”

Instead, the Dodgers’ best chance had come and gone.

At the top of eighth place, Cardinal All-Star Relevant Ryan Helsley retired in turn. At the bottom of the inning, David Price gave up what turned out to be a costly insurance run, giving the Cardinals a two-run lead that allowed them to withstand a solo blast from Freeman — giving him his second straight game with four hits the top of the ninth. Dodgers’ late rally falls short this time in loss to Cardinals

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