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LOS ANGELES - The Cardinals' first three batters in Game 5 loaded the bases. Matt Adams stepped up with a chance to stake St. Louis to a commanding early lead and help it close out the NL Championship Series.

Instead, the slugger struck out on a bouncing pitch in the dirt. Yadier Molina followed with a meek double-play grounder.

"If my at-bat changes, it could swing the game," Adams said Wednesday after a 6-4 loss to the Dodgers. "I didn't get the job done. We didn't get it done."

If that lament sounds familiar, that's because the Cardinals had much the same problems last October in the last three games of a nightmare NLCS, when they scored one run while losing all three and falling to the Giants.

"We had a couple of opportunities to do something, and we just couldn't make it happen," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "These guys have done a tremendous job in those exact same situations all season long."

SHORT ON RUNS, LONG ON TIME: The Red Sox and Tigers have had a pair of 1-0 games in the ALCS. The pitching duels, though, haven't helped the pace of play.

Boston beat Detroit 1-0 on Tuesday night and the game lasted longer than 3 hours. The Tigers opened the ALCS with a 1-0 win against the Red Sox that took almost 4 hours to finish.

Boston manager John Farrell has a theory why the games have taken so long.

"The number of strikeouts, you're going to look at longer at-bats," he said. "There's no early contact, there's no early outs."

The teams combined for 23 strikeouts in the 1-0 games.

AROUND THE MAJORS:Don Baylor, a former MVP for the Angels, is returning to the team as hitting coach, replacing Jim Eppard. Baylor had been Arizona's hitting coach for three years. ... Reds RHP Mat Latos had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow and should be ready for spring training.