ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals stunned Clayton Kershaw with a four-run third inning, rookie Michael Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Friday night.
Matt Carpenter sparked St. Louis’ big inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home and the Cardinals quickly removed all the suspense surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series. Wacha was selected MVP of the series after giving up two hits in seven innings Friday.
It was 52 degrees at gametime, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never even warmed up. The top NL CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start for the first time this season without finishing the fifth.
Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
The Cardinals jumped on Kershaw in the third, batting around. After Wacha grounded out, Carpenter doubled in a gritty at-bat. Beltran singled him home for the game’s first run. With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a single in his first career postseason start after replacing slumping Jon Jay – and advanced to second base on Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig’s first of two errors.
The Cuban defector also struck out twice and was booed heartily.
Kershaw needed 48 pitches, the most pitches of his career in one inning, in the third. He took exception one pitch in particular, complaining to plate umpire Greg Gibson after Matt Adams’ full-count walk loaded the bases.