One run all it takes for Cardinals to defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Rising star Michael Wacha out-dueled former Cy Young Award-winner Clayton Kershaw, and led St. Louis to a 1-0 victory over the Dodgers and a 2-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Five days after he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning to keep the Cardinals alive in game four of the division series against Pittsburgh, rookie pitcher Wacha limited the Los Angeles lineup to five hits, striking out eight in 6 and 2/3 innings in his second career playoff appearance.
Four St. Louis relief pitchers preserved the shut-out, with Trevor Rosenthal striking out the side in the ninth to seal the Cardinals’ second victory in as many days.
The Cardinals had won the opening game of the best-of-seven series on Friday night 3-2, when Carlos Beltran delivered the walk-off run-scoring single in the 13th inning.
Beltran was full of praise for the Cardinals’ young pitching star.
“Unbelievable, being able to pitch the way he did today,” Beltran said. “He put himself in a couple of jams and being able to get out . . . that was incredible.”
The winners of the series, which shifts to Los Angeles for game three on Monday, advances to Major League Baseball’s championship World Series, where they’ll face the winners of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers.
The Cardinals will send ace Adam Wainwright to the mound on Monday, while the Dodgers will give the ball to South Korean rookie Ryu Hyun-Jin.
“We’re in a hole now but we’re not out of it yet,” Kershaw said. “We’ve got three games at home to get right back in this thing and that’s the plan.”
The Dodgers were without a brace of banged-up regulars, with shortstop Hanley Ramirez and center fielder Andre Ethier both sitting out.
Ramirez was hit in the ribs by a pitch in Friday’s contest, while Ethier is still struggling with a sprained ankle that has troubled him for much of the month.
The Dodgers will be hoping the move to their home ground in Chavez Ravine will mark a change in fortunes. They didn’t manage a hit against the St. Louis bullpen and have now gone 19 innings without scoring.
All-Star left-hander Kershaw did what he could, surrendering just two hits and a walk and striking out five before he was taken out for a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh.
But a passed ball by catcher A.J. Ellis in the fifth inning led to an unearned run that was all the offense St. Louis needed.
Ellis said “it hurts” to be down 0-2 after strong outings from starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Kershaw.
“It was a couple of tough ballgames,” Ellis said. “Now we will see what we are made of.”