LOS ANGELES — Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Blake DeWitt also had two RBIs to lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night, completing a three-game sweep.
James Loney tied a career high with four hits, helping Los Angeles extend St. Louis’ losing streak to a season-worst four games and dropping the Cardinals one game behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central.
The Dodgers’ 23rd win in 30 games increased their NL West lead to one game over the San Diego Padres, who were rained out in New York.
Clayton Kershaw (6-3) struck out 10 in seven innings, the fifth time he’s reached double digits in 64 big league starts. The 22-year-old left-hander fanned six of his first 10 batters before giving up a three-run homer to Ryan Ludwick that sliced the Dodgers’ lead to 4-3 in the fourth.
Ludwick nearly put the Cardinals ahead in the sixth, but his bid for a two-run homer was caught by Ramirez a couple of feet from the left-field fence.
Ronald Belisario pitched a perfect eighth inning. Jonathan Broxton gave up a leadoff single to Albert Pujols and a two-out ground-rule double by Yadier Molina before retiring Randy Winn on a grounder to earn his 16th save in 18 chances.
This was the first time the Dodgers swept St. Louis at home in a three-game series since July 1988, the year of their most recent World Series title. The only other season that the Cardinals failed to win a game at Dodger Stadium during the regular season was 1976 (0-6).
Los Angeles also swept the Cardinals in the first round of last year’s playoffs.
Adam Wainwright (8-4) gave up four runs, eight hits and a season-high five walks in six innings. The right-hander, who retired the final 18 Milwaukee batters he faced last Friday in a two-hitter to record his first shutout in the majors, fell behind 4-0 after three innings against the Dodgers.
The four earned runs against Wainwright tied a season worst and matched his combined total from his previous four starts.
Ramirez opened the scoring in the first, driving a 2-1 pitch to right-centre for his 551st career homer and fifth this season after a two-out double by Andre Ethier. The 12-time all-star came in batting .278, but was hitting just .212 since coming off the disabled list on May 8.
DeWitt increased the margin to 4-0 in the third with a two-run single before the Cardinals answered back with Ludwick’s 10th homer and third of the series. It came after a leadoff single by Aaron Miles and a walk to Matt Holliday. Ludwick is hitting .467 with runners in scoring position, the best mark in the majors.
NOTES: Kershaw is averaging an NL-best 10.43 strikeouts per nine innings. ... Arkansas State RHP-3B Drew Benes, whose father Andy and uncle Alan both pitched for the Cardinals, was selected in the 35th round of the amateur draft by St. Louis on Wednesday. He was 1,069th overall. ... Winn was 0 for 4 on his 36th birthday. He has played in 1,635 games during his career without getting into the post-season, the longest drought by any active major leaguer. ... Ethier is 11 for 40 with two RBIs and no home runs in 10 games since returning from the disabled list, after missing the previous 15 games because of a broken right pinky. ... The Dodgers have won the last 43 games in which they led after seven innings.