Friday, February 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Cardinals take NLCS opener in 13 innings

ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran capped his latest scintillating postseason performance with an RBI single in the 13th inning early Saturday that lifted the Cardinals over the Dodgers 3-2 in the NL Championship Series opener.

Beltran hit a two-run double early, then threw out a runner at the plate from rightfield in the 10th to keep the score tied.

In the 13th, he singled into the rightfield corner with one out against Kenley Jansen.

It was the longest postseason game for the Dodgers since the 1916 World Series.

Game 2 is this afternoon.

It was the first extra-inning game in this postseason.

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke struck out 10 in eight innings, allowing just four hits. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly left after the sixth with the score 2-all.

Mark Ellis tripled with one out in the Dodgers 10th. After Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, Michael Young followed with a fly ball to shallow rightfield that Beltran caught.

Beltran made a strong, one-hop throw home and Ellis crashed into Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina.

Molina held the ball, but it was hard to tell whether he actually tagged Ellis. On such plays, however, umpires almost always give the benefit to the catcher and call the runner out.

The Dodgers put runners at first and second with two outs in the 11th against John Axford. Pinch-hitter Nick Punto, who played for the Cardinals on their 2011 World Series championship team, struck to end the inning.

Young, in the game after cleanup man Adrian Gonzalez was pulled for a pinch-runner in the eighth, got another chance in 12th. With runners on first and second, he grounded into an inning-ending double play against Lance Lynn.

Beltran hit a tying, two-run double in the third that barely eluded Dodgers centerfielder Andre Ethier.

Slowed by a sore ankle, Ethier made his first start in this postseason. He appeared to mistime his jump just a bit as he banged into the padded wall.

Beltran's two-run double in the third was the only damage against Greinke. He struck out Carpenter, Matt Adams and Pete Kozma twice each and struck out the side in the fifth.

The teams are postseason foes for the first time since a Dodgers sweep in their 2009 division series. It's their first NLCS matchup since 1985, when the Cardinals won in six games behind game-breaking homers from Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark off Tom Niedenfuer.

Game 2 on Saturday features a marquee pitching matchup, with Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw opposing rookie Michael Wacha, who has taken no-hit bids deep into his last two starts. Kershaw was the major league ERA leader for the third straight year, but two of his losses came against St. Louis and his 4.15 ERA was his highest against any team he faced at least twice.

Kelly left on his own terms after six innings in a 2-all tie, hurt only by Juan Uribe's two-run single in the third. Counting multiple efforts, the Cardinals had five relievers warm but the Dodgers were 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

Beltran has 33 postseason RBIs in 40 games after his two-run double in the third.

Kelly got all three outs on strikeouts in the first. The Dodgers left runners on second and third when Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig fanned.

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