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 Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series on Friday night.
Matt Carpenter sparked St. Louis' big third inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home as 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. Shane Robinson, a former Jesuit High and Florida State standout making his first postseason start, contributed a two-run single in the third.
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Red Sox and Tigers. The Cardinals will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to Wacha 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 game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never warmed up.
The top NL Cy Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start before finishing the fifth inning for the first time this season.
Beltran had three hits and drove in two while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in rightfield, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank God we're here."
The Cardinals jumped on Kershaw in the third, batting around. After Wacha grounded out, Carpenter doubled and Beltran singled him home for the game's first run. With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, Robinson drove in two runs with a single as the replacement for slumping Jon Jay and advanced to second base on Dodgers rookie rightfielder Yasiel Puig's first of two errors in the big innings. Puig also struck out twice and was booed. Hanley Ramirez, a last-minute addition to the Dodgers' lineup, went 0-for 3-while playing with a broken rib.
Kershaw needed 48 pitches, the most pitches of his career in one inning, in the third. The Cardinals knocked him out in a five-run fifth.
Wacha has a 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one of the gems in Game 4 of the division series to keep the Cards alive. "There's not anything you can't say about him," Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly said of Wacha. "He's just going out there and pitching his butt off right now and as you can see, he's just a pretty (darn) good pitcher."