LOS ANGELES -- Adron Chambers was kicking himself for watching the Cardinals' last chance sail by.
Appearing as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and representing the go-ahead run, Chambers looked at strike three on the outside corner from Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen that provided the final out of a 6-4 Cards loss in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday. It sent the teams back to St. Louis for a Game 6 on Friday night (7:30 p.m. CT on TBS).
"That's a pitch I can't take," Chambers said with a shake of his head. "It's too close. He made a good pitch, and he got the call."
Chambers could cling to some silver linings: The Cardinals still lead the series, 3-2, and at least showed some fight before bowing on a sun-splashed afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The Cards trailed entering the ninth inning, 6-2, after four Dodgers home runs, and they caught a break when Matt Holliday's leadoff double bounced past right fielder Yasiel Puig, who appeared to be battling the sun.
St. Louis first baseman Matt Adams followed with an RBI single that began a back-and-forth between Jansen and the Cardinals' hitters. Yadier Molina struck out to cap an uncharacteristically unproductive game -- 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, two rally-killing double plays and six men left on base. Jon Jay singled, moving Adams to second base. David Freese, a hero of postseasons past, struck out. Pete Kozma singled home Adams, cutting the Cards' deficit to 6-4.
"It is frustrating. I am frustrated," Molina said. "I had the chance to help my team win and I didn't come through. It is part of baseball. Today was my bad game."
"It's just never easy," Freese said. "You get to this stage, even if you go on to win the World Series, you've [gone through] some tough breaks and gotten past some tough things."
The Redbirds' last hope was Chambers, a 27-year-old outfielder who entered the day 1-for-11 in the postseason and was also 1-for-11 in pinch-hit at-bats during what Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully calls "the regular year."
Chambers batted with 53,183 fans roaring in the Dodger Stadium stands. He fell behind, 0-2, looked at one of Jansen's signature cutters low and away, then looked at another higher in the strike zone and on the outside corner of home plate. Umpire Ted Barrett made the final call.
"I don't think it was really the crowd," Chambers said. "He made a good pitch, and he got the call."
The Cardinals will have two more chances to clinch the NL pennant at home, beginning Friday night.
"That's where you hold onto the confidence," Freese said, referring to the ninth-inning rally. "You continue to fight. We put up some good ABs, but Jansen is a great closer, and the [lead] that they had helped them out."