LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers lost plenty Friday night, but not the game, edging the Cardinals, 6-5, in a showdown of first-place teams on A.J. Ellis' walk-off walk in the ninth.
But it came only after losing manager Don Mattingly in the third inning to an ejection; losing second baseman Mark Ellis to a left leg injury in the seventh inning; and losing leads of 3-0 and 5-4, with Kenley Jansen's blown save costing starter Ted Lilly his sixth win.
X-rays on Mark Ellis' lower left leg after a hard slide from Tyler Greene breaking up a double play were negative, which was good news, but his limp from a sprained ankle and bruised shin could mean he'll need a few days off, if not a disabled-list stint.
A swarm of position-player injuries (Matt Kemp, Juan Rivera, Juan Uribe and Jerry Hairston) is what led to the callup of rookie utilityman Elian Herrera, who started the winning rally as a pinch-hitter with a leadoff eight-pitch walk.
"A great at-bat," said Mattingly.
Andre Ethier struck out, but Adam Kennedy singled for his fourth hit of the game and Herrera took third base.
"The way the outfielder was playing, he didn't want the ball in the gap, so I knew I could get to third," said Herrera. "I had to run the bases smart, especially in that inning, and not do something crazy."
James Loney was walked intentionally to load the bases for A.J. Ellis, who walked on four pitches from Fernando Salas.
The Dodgers were 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position and got 10 hits from the bottom half of the batting order (four from Kennedy, three from Loney, two from Tony Gwynn and one from A.J. Ellis). That compensated for an 0-for-5 from struggling leadoff hitter Dee Gordon, now batting .200.
"It's not the time to sit here and go into Dee," said Mattingly. "Obviously he's struggling. It didn't look very good from where I was at. The game's moving awfully fast for him right now. In the same breath, the kid is going to be a great player. He's going through something that will make him a better player later on."
The four hits signaled the end of a tough stretch that the veteran Kennedy has been going through. He came into the game hitting .186, limited to mostly pinch-hitting duties until the injuries to infielders Uribe and Hairston.
The last three games Kennedy has been the starting third baseman, the last two games the No. 5 hitter. The four hits raised his average 69 points.
"I worked with [hitting coach] Dave Hansen and Donnie in the cage in San Diego for a half hour," Kennedy said of the recent trip south. "I haven't been hitting the ball properly and wasn't expecting it to fall. I'm always working every day, whether I'm playing or not playing. I'm always searching for the perfect swing."
It was Kennedy's first four-hit game since July 30, 2010.
"That's sad," he said.
Down to their last out in the ninth inning, the Cardinals tied the game at 5 on pinch-hitter Lance Berkman's homer off Jansen.
"It's tough, and I haven't had a whole lot of success as a pinch-hitter," said Berkman. "But that's why they run me up there, because I might accidently run into one. That's what happened tonight. It was a guy who throws hard, and I felt like that he was going to stay hard and he did."
All four runs against Lilly in a weird third inning were unearned, as his ERA fell to 1.79. He allowed four hits and struck out six without a walk.
The Dodgers had taken a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning off reliever Marc Rzepczynski, assisted by former Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal's throwing error that was forced by Bobby Abreu's hard slide. The go-ahead run was singled home by Loney, who dunked a blooper into shallow left field to score Ethier.
The Dodgers got sloppy in the third inning and gave up a 3-0 lead. Greene bunted for a single and slipped when he took off to steal second. A.J. Ellis had Greene picked off retreating to first base, but Loney wasn't watching and the throw sailed down the right-field line as Greene took second. Lilly struck out Shane Robinson on a pitch in the dirt that got away from Ellis and Robinson was safe at first.
Lynn bunted the runners to second and third, then they advanced a base on Furcal's sacrifice fly. With Matt Carpenter up, Mattingly was ejected by home-plate umpire Tom Hallion for arguing a check-swing call that would have ended the inning. Instead, Carpenter dropped an RBI single into right field and Matt Holliday homered to put the Cards up, 4-3.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.