In one of the most enjoyable pure baseball experiences of the early season, the Cardinals ace edged the home team legend.
Jack Flaherty was barely hittable over eight powerful innings, while Clayton Kershaw was just barely less strong over the same stretch, as the Redbirds claimed a 1-0 victory to even the series.
"This is what we knew Jack Flaherty would become," said Kolten Wong, who plated the only run of the game. "To duel a Hall of Famer like that, in Dodger Stadium, that's like, wow."
Two hits -- a single to Mookie Betts to lead off the bottom of the first, and a fifth inning double to Cody Bellinger -- accompanied a single walk, as Flaherty simply shut down the powerhouse Dodgers lineup.
With Flaherty at 88 pitches, Ryan Helsley came in for the ninth, setting down three in a row, on two whiffs and a popout, after a leadoff walk to Max Muncy.
Kershaw won his first outing against the Cards at Busch Stadium earlier this season. This time, he was almost as dominant as Flaherty, only giving up four hits and two walks over eight.
But three of those baserunners, in a single inning, were his undoing.
Wong led off the fifth with a bunt single that third baseman Justin Turner could not field cleanly. After Dylan Carlson bunted Wong over to second, Flaherty struck out and Matt Carpenter walked.
After Dexter Fowler flied to left, Tommy Edman dueled Kershaw to a 3-2 count, and then muscled a short fly right between shortstop Cory Seager and left fielder Joc Pederson that allowed Wong time to hustle home. Yadier Molina struck out leaving Carpenter and Edman at third and second.
Bellinger's leadoff double threatened the tenuous lead in the bottom half. But Flaherty, with nine strikeouts on the game, struck out the side on 11 pitches.
Flaherty threw no more than 16 pitches in any inning, and three times was at 10 or less.
"It's the Jack we expect now," said manager Mike Shildt. "Maybe not that extraordinary every time, but pretty close. He can go head to head against anyone, including the likes of Kershaw. Cardinals fans are fortunate to see his career blossoming like this."
In defeating the Dodgers Wednesday, the Cardinals climbed to 10-7 and stay competitive with the greatly improved Cincinnati Reds for supremacy in the National League Central.
Next Up and Notes: The series ends on Thursday with Dakota Hudson facing Walker Buehler.Matt Wieters is expected to give Molina a rest at catcher. Brad Miller got his first full stint at shortstop Wednesday, handling three ground balls without consequence. Lane Thomas got a start in left field and reached base on an opposite field single.