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Cardinals win, take NLCS 2-0 lead on Dodgers

Michael Wacha, 22, was nearly untouchable for the third straight start.

AP photo

Michael Wacha, 22, was nearly untouchable for the third straight start.

ST. LOUIS — Matched against ace Clayton Kershaw, the only thing Michael Wacha lacked was a no-hit watch.

"He's becoming a guy a lot of teams wish they drafted," teammate David Freese said. "What he's done is remarkable, especially on this stage."

Wacha stared down a bases-loaded test in the sixth inning and pitched into the seventh, and the kids in the bullpen also were impervious to October pressure, keeping the Dodgers bats silent for the second straight day and winning 1-0 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the NL Championship Series.

"I'm kind of at a loss for words to describe him," said fellow rookie Kevin Siegrist, who got a big out to end the seventh. "It's kind of ridiculous how well he's done so far."

The Cardinals managed only two hits off Kershaw and the Dodgers, but Jon Jay's sacrifice fly set up by Freese's double and A.J. Ellis' passed ball in the fifth stood up.

The Dodgers' scoreless streak in the NLCS reached 19 innings after they averaged 6½ runs in a four-game Division Series against the Braves. Rookie fireballer Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth with a heater reaching 101 mph, fanning pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on three pitches to end it.

Game 3 is Monday at Dodger Stadium, with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright facing rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have already used their top two starters and have nothing to show for it.

"We don't get too far ahead of ourselves," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We don't deny also what's happened here the last two days.

"Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that."

With Hanley Ramirez and Ethier out of the lineup with injuries, Los Angeles missed a handful of opportunities, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position for a two-day total of 1-for-16. Rookie Yasiel Puig struck out in all four of his at-bats.

"We had our chances," Kershaw said. "We had our chances, for sure. You've got to give a lot of credit to Wacha."

The teams may have been hindered by shadows creeping across Busch Stadium in a late-afternoon start, with lights providing no real help. Both also were no doubt fatigued, which might have shown on the crucial passed ball by Ellis that resulted in an unearned run.

Wacha, 22, was nearly untouchable for the third straight start. The right-hander was one out away from a no-hitter in his last start of the regular season against the Nationals, then pitched 71/3 no-hit innings against the Pirates in Game 4 of the Division Series.

In 222/3 innings over those three starts, Wacha has given up two runs on seven hits with 26 strikeouts and five walks.

Cardinals win, take NLCS 2-0 lead on Dodgers 10/12/13 [Last modified: Sunday, October 13, 2013 12:35am]
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