The St. Louis Cardinals will face the Texas Rangers in the World series after they beat the Milwaukee Brewers 12-6 on Sunday to seal a 4-2 victory in the National League Championship Series .
The Cardinals seemed like unlikely contenders for Major League Baseball’s crown when they trailed in the wild card race by 10 1/2 games on August 25.
They didn’t book their playoff berth until the final day of the regular season, and with the aid of an epic September collapse by Atlanta.
Now, however, the Cardinals have a chance to claim a second title in six seasons.
David Freese hit an early three-run homer for St. Louis and the Cardinals’ relief pitchers delivered another stellar performance.
Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols hit solo homers off Chris Narveson and St. Louis built a 9-4 lead by the time the bullpen took over for starting pitcher Edwin Jackson in the third inning.
St. Louis relievers Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte gave up just two runs over the last seven innings.
The Cardinals got a scare in the fifth inning when Pujols appeared shaken up after he fell hard in a close play to tag out Braun at first base.
He was slow to rise, but stayed in the game.
It was a disappointing end to the season for the National League Central division champion Brewers, who with the help of sluggers Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun had finished with a club record 96 wins.
The Brewers were baseball’s best home team in the regular season, but lost their poise and lost twice at home in the series against St. Louis.
Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy all homered for the Brewers, but Milwaukee’s effort was hindered by defensive miscues.
The Brewers committed four errors in a 7-1 loss in game five and added three more on Sunday.