LOS ANGELES— The Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense is struggling, and on Monday are up against St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
“We’ve talked about it. It always comes back to, can you get that key out and can you get the key hit?” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “It doesn’t get any easier for us with Wainwright. He seems like he’s always coming up big.”
Neither shortstop Hanley Ramirez nor outfielder Andre Ethier started Saturday. Ramirez suffered painful left ribs after getting hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in the series opener and Ethier is bothered by shin splints, but did appear as a pinch-hitter in Game 2, ending the game with a strikeout.
“It’s definitely a thing where we need all the hands we can to find a way to get back in the series,” Ethier said.
Wainwright predicted both Ramirez and Ethier would play.
“He looks the best I’ve seen him in a long time,” Wainwright said of Ramirez. “His swing looks great. His approach is awesome. As everyone knows, he’s got power to all fields, so he’s a very dangerous hitter and a very tough bat added to that lineup.”
Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig has yet to make an impact in the series. Hitting cleanup in place of Ramirez, Puig struck out four times Saturday, dropping to 0-for-10 with six strikeouts in the series.
“He is a positive kid and he told me, ‘I’m going to get it tomorrow,’ ” Ramirez said. “Tomorrow he’s going to come and get ready to play and he’s going to do some damage.”
The lack of offense and injuries to key players recalls a version of the Dodgers from earlier in the season, when they were mired in the NL West cellar and were 12 games under .500. Then Puig arrived in early June and sparked their revival.
Los Angeles couldn’t capitalize on stellar outings by starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the road and now must rely on rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu, who stumbled against Atlanta in his playoff debut in the division series. He allowed four runs and six hits in three innings, and made two major mistakes in the field.
“I feel really strong,” Ryu said through a Korean translator. “There is no reason my arm isn’t in good, top shape right now.”
Wainwright last pitched against the Dodgers in the postseason in the 2009 National League Division Series, allowing one earned run in eight innings of a no-decision. He left leading 2-1 before Los Angeles scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to win.
“Thinking back, I know it’s going to be rocking tomorrow,” Wainwright said. “I don’t know how many people are here, but it’s a lot of fans, bigger than most stadiums and very loud. I love that though. The louder the better. That plays right into my hands.”
The Cardinals went through a full workout on a sunny and cool day at Dodger Stadium.
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said his team’s mentality has stayed the same throughout the season.
“We’ve had some brutal losses and the guys came back the next day like it never happened,” he said.