Chris Taylor's walk-off home run lifts Los Angeles Dodgers to NL wild-card win over St. Louis Cardinals

Chris Taylor hits a two-run homer to send the Dodgers to NLDS against the Cardinals in walk-off fashion. (2:04).
Dodgers leave Taylor's HR and walk away to NLDS (2.04).

LOS ANGELES -- Chris Taylor's big swing sent the Los Angeles Dodgers soaring, and the St. Louis Cardinals crashing.

Taylor scored two runs in the ninth inning for a 3-1 win for the Dodgers in a thrilling National League Wild Card Game.

Justin Turner scored early, and the 106-win Dodgers moved to a best of five division series against San Francisco Giants. The NL West champion San Francisco Giants won 107 games to just hold off rival Los Angeles. Game 1 will be played in San Francisco on Friday night.

"This is going to be fun. Two of the greatest regular-season records ever. Taylor stated that Taylor and I have been fighting all year so I expect a hard-fought series."

The Dodgers had a great time on the field, before moving into the clubhouse to continue the celebration. Champagne and beer were served to the shirtless, goggle-wearing Dodgers, who were thrilled to be alive for another shot at their Bay Area opponent.

Dave Roberts, Los Angeles manager, said that it was "one of the great rivalries within sports." It's happening.

As tension built in the fourth inning, the Dodger Stadium sold-out crowd of 53.193 waited patiently for every pitch. Blue towels were waved by fans, who tried to urge on the balls that were launched into the outfield but were unsuccessfully able to catch them in a winner-takes-all matchup between two of NL's most successful and storied franchises.

In the ninth inning, the crowd was up and ready to cheer on the World Series champions. T.J. McFarland walked two outs to get the Dodgers off to a start. Alex Reyes was in the game to face Taylor and Bellinger took second.

Taylor batted in the No. 9 spot. Taylor said, "That's huge," he added. After being part of a double switch in seventh, Taylor moved to the 9 slot. It kind of calmed me down a bit."

Taylor sent a 2-1 breaking pitch into the left-field pavilion. This triggered a huge cheer.

A recurring neck injury caused the versatile veteran to struggle in September, which led him to be unable to play in the Dodgers' most important match of the season.

"Honestly, I was just trying hit a single. Taylor stated after Taylor launched the fourth Dodgers postseason walk-off homer. He gave me a slider to hit, and it was easy to lift it in the air.

It was the fifth game-ending homer in a winner takes all postseason game, following Pittsburgh's Bill Mazeroski's 1960 World Series, Aaron Boone's 2003 ALCS and Chris Chambliss's 1976 AL Championship Series.

Taylor made an excellent defensive play in the eighth and robbed Edmundo Sosa off a hit for his second out.

Tommy Edman walked in second with a one-out hit to Kenley Jansen, right off the closer. Paul Goldschmidt was called to third base and Tyler O'Neill came down swinging to end his threat. Edman was 3-for-5 and scored a run.

The Dodgers' bullpen stymied St. Louis hitters and allowed only two singles after the fifth inning.

"The entire bullpen has stepped up. Jansen stated that we've been doing this for the entire year. "Now we're going up north."

Both teams had runners in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings but could not get a run across.

Turner stated, "It was a grind every night."

St. Louis was 0-for-11 in runners in scoring position and left 11 people stranded. In September, the Cardinals enjoyed a 17-game winning streak to secure the second wild card spot. However, their October hopes were dashed.

Manager Mike Shildt stated, "That's an entire clubhouse of guys that are hurting."

St. Louis' Adam Wainwright and the Dodgers’ Max Scherzer were both ace in the duel, but they struggled to control the game early. This was only the second winner-takes-all postseason game with two starters over 37. Wainwright is 40; Scherzer is 37.

Wainwright spoke highly of the Dodgers, saying that they were "relentless". "We had our chance to win that game," Wainwright said.

Through the first three innings, Wainwright and Scherzer each issued two walks. Scherzer's wild pitch resulted in a run in first, and he plunked Harrison Bader for the fourth.

Turner tied the score at 1 in the fourth with a leadoff hit into the Dodgers bullpen in left. This was Wainwright's first postseason homer. Turner's 13 homers in the postseason are the most in franchise history.

St. Louis was leading 1-0 after Edman scored on Scherzer’s wild pitch. Edman singled leading to, stole second base, and moved to third when O'Neill fouled out.

After giving up Edman's leadoff single and a walk to Goldschmidt, Scherzer was left in the fifth with one out. He was pacing the dugout, his hands on his hips. After Goldschmidt had reached third on a wild pitch, former Cardinal Joe Kelly got out.

Scherzer allowed only one run and three hits and struck out four against his hometown team.

"We won the match. Scherzer stated that this is all that matters.

In 5 1/3 innings Wainwright allowed one run and four hits. He struck out five, and walked two.

Wainwright was on the mound in the third and loaded the bases with one out. Trea Turner made it to the plate in the third, just one ball shy of waving him off.


Juan Soto, a Nationals outfielder, sat behind Turner's plate in a Turner jersey from his days in Washington. Soto was second to Turner, his former Nats teammate for the NL batting championship. Turner won his first batting title with a.328 run average.

Soto stated that he wants to support his teammates, and "see their faces when I surprise them."

It worked. Turner didn't know Soto was coming.

He said, "When I saw him during a game, I was laughing that he would be wearing my jersey."

Nationals hitting coach Kevin Long was next to Soto, wearing Scherzer’s jersey.


Roberts claimed that he had a wager with Bruce Bochy, the retired Giants manager. The Giants won the title by one game over the Dodgers. Their eight-year reign was ended on the last day of regular season.

Roberts stated that he lost a dinner and a nice wine bottle because the division didn't win. Bochy will pick the vintage.

"Knowing that it will be some kind of first growth, it is not going to cost much."

Roberts is a partner of Red Stitch Wine Group. The group produced its first vintage in 2007.


Cardinals: Catchers and pitchers report to spring training in February.

Dodgers: Friday, open the best-of-5 NLDS against San Francisco. They were 9-10 against Giants this season.