LOS ANGELES — Thanks to two big swings and some excellent defense, the Cardinals are one win from the World Series.
Just like last year.
Matt Holliday and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson connected for the first home runs of the NL Championship Series, and St. Louis beat the Dodgers 4-2 Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves," Holliday said.
In a series starved for offense, the Cardinals scored as many runs as they did in the first three games combined, when the teams totaled nine.
Game 5 is this afternoon at Dodger Stadium, with Zack Greinke set to start for Los Angeles against Joe Kelly.
St. Louis had a 3-1 lead in last year's NLCS before dropping three straight to the Giants, the eventual World Series champion.
"Hopefully, we can throw some offense together like we were (Tuesday) a little bit and keep some positive thoughts going," manager Mike Matheny said. "When we start talking about where the series is, I think it's a distraction. What we've got to do is play a game."
It was a painful defeat for the Dodgers, in more ways than one. Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, playing with a broken left rib, left in the middle of the sixth after striking out three times.
"It got worse as we went along," manager Don Mattingly said.
St. Louis third baseman David Freese came out after six innings. He left Monday's game with a cramp in his right calf.
Hitless in 22 at-bats at Dodger Stadium, Holliday sent a two-run shot off Ricky Nolasco an estimated 426 feet to left, capping a three-run third that gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
"That's about as good as I can hit one," said Holliday, who was 0-for-13 in the series before connecting.
"I wasn't really doubting my swing at all. I felt actually really good with my at-bats. Sometimes in this game you don't always get the results that you want even if you feel like you're having good at-bats, so I just wanted to stay with it."
Robinson, a Jesuit High and Florida State product, hit a home run that bounced off the top of the leftfield wall on a 1-and-0 pitch from former Rays reliever J.P. Howell with one out in the seventh, extending the Cardinals' lead to 4-2.
"For a little guy, he's got surprising power," Holliday said. "I mean, honestly, he's got some thump."