Playoff Series: Game 2 of 5

St. Louis leads 3-2 (as of 10/8)

Game 1: Sunday, October 7
St. Louis2
Game 2: Monday, October 8
St. Louis12
Game 3: Wednesday, October 10
St. Louis8Final
Game 4: Thursday, October 11
St. Louis1Final
Game 5: Friday, October 12
St. Louis9Final

    4:37 PM ET, October 8, 2012

    Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri 

    123456789 R H E
    WSH 010020100 4 10 2
    STL 04120104 - 12 13 0

    W: L. Lynn (1-0)

    L: J. Zimmermann (0-1)

    Carlos Beltran (2 HRs), Cardinals hammer Nationals, knot series

    Associated Press

    ST. LOUIS -- Three hits and an excruciating loss one day, double-digit runs and a laugher the next. The St. Louis Cardinals have been that type of team all season.

    The defending World Series champions tied their NL Division Series with Washington at one game apiece by doing what they do best -- forgetting about what happened the day before and concentrating on the game at hand. They lost the division series and NLCS openers last year, and look how that turned out.

    Carlos Beltran hit the last two of the Cardinals' four homers and St. Louis chased an ineffective Jordan Zimmermann early in a 12-4 rout of the Nationals on Monday.

    "We know this offense has the potential to do this," Cardinals rookie manager Mike Matheny said. "It was nice to see this, and hopefully it becomes contagious and the guys just keep going."

    Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig also went deep to help the Cardinals build a big lead that compensated for a two-inning start from an ailing Jaime Garcia. Craig hit his fifth career postseason homer and scored three times.

    "If we get things going, we feel like we can carry the team," Craig said. "As you saw tonight, we put a lot of good swings on the ball and really drove the ball. It was a lot of fun."

    Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit consecutive homers in the fifth for the Nationals, who head home for the remainder of the best-of-five series. But the NL East champions are without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg, shut down for the rest of the season early last month to protect his surgically repaired arm.

    "I miss him not experiencing this with us and he misses not experiencing it with us," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "But we did the right thing, there's no question.

    "He'd have been the guy that opened the series."

    Garcia was taken out with a shoulder injury and sent for an MRI exam. The left-hander missed two months this season with shoulder fatigue.

    "It just wasn't right the whole time. I had to come out of the game," Garcia said. "I don't know how it happened, I don't know when it happened.

    "I'm just hoping it's not too bad, but at the same time you've just got to wait and see how it goes."

    Game 3 is Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park, the first postseason contest in the nation's capital since the original Senators played the New York Giants in the 1933 World Series. Edwin Jackson starts for Washington against longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who made only three starts during the regular season because of injury.

    "Today, for us, was a must-win game," Beltran said.

    The Cardinals seem to live for those. They lost the division series and NLCS openers last fall, then finished strong in the World Series after spotting Texas a 3-2 lead.

    So, they're on familiar ground. And once again, as a wild card.

    "We knew how big this game was for us," center fielder Jon Jay said. "We've seen it all year -- when we are able to do that, we are pretty dangerous."

    After the Nationals rallied late to win the opener 3-2, there were no lineup changes in Game 2 -- just a lot more clutch hitting from players accustomed to October pressure.

    Beltran homered twice in the postseason for the third time in his career, connecting in the sixth off Mike Gonzalez and eighth off Sean Burnett. Jay had two hits and three RBIs, plus an outstanding catch at the center-field wall to deprive Danny Espinosa of extra bases in the sixth.

    "One of the best catches I've seen. I think it's his best catch of the year," Matheny said. "He barely looked up as he was hitting the wall. Very impressive."

    St. Louis was 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position during Game 1 and totaled just three hits, but the Cardinals had five hits in a four-run second Monday. Descalso hit his first postseason homer in the fourth, a day after getting robbed by Jayson Werth's leaping catch at the right-field wall. Beltran's drive off Gonzalez in the sixth banged off the facade in the third deck in left, estimated at 444 feet.

    "I hope I never see this offense again," Johnson said to much laughter in the postgame interview room.

    Shadows creeped past the pitcher's mound around the third inning and didn't seem to be as big of an issue in Game 2, which started 1½ hours later than the opener. Both teams had issues with the playing conditions after the opener.

    Late last season, after complaints from Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman, the Cardinals said they'd try not to schedule late afternoon games that might be affected.

    Nationals rookie Bryce Harper went 1 for 5 and struck out four times. He also was thrown out at third base on an ill-advised attempt to advance. He is 1 for 10 in the series with six strikeouts.

    "Do I look overanxious? You think so?" he said to one reporter. "Maybe you should be a hitting coach."

    Zimmermann lasted a season-low three innings while pitching on eight days' rest. His next-shortest outing this year also was against the Cardinals, when he coughed up a four-run, first-inning cushion and was chased after yielding eight runs in 3 2/3 innings during a 10-9 loss at home.

    The numbers weren't favorable for the 25-year-old right-hander prior to first pitch, given he's 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the Cardinals. They were 3 for 5 with runners in scoring position against a pitcher who led the majors by holding opponents to a .160 average.

    "They have a great lineup," Zimmermann said. "You get a few guys out and then you've got Beltran, (David) Freese and it never stops. You have to make your pitches and I wasn't able to do that tonight."

    Nationals batters made contact on just four of Garcia's 24 pitches in the first, threatening with a pair of walks. Garcia went to a full count on five of his first eight hitters, and threw 51 pitches in two innings while surrendering Zimmermann's RBI single in the second.

    The Cardinals had 18-game winner Lance Lynn warming up in the second and the right-hander stood on the bullpen mound during St. Louis' four-run inning. Pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker stood on the top dugout step while Pete Kozma struck out for the first out in the second and it was no decoy, with Schumaker contributing a run-scoring groundout to the rally.

    Before heading to the on-deck circle, Garcia knew he was done for the day.

    "I told them when I went in that I was coming out," he said.

    Lynn, who would likely replace Garcia in the rotation, struck out five in a three-inning stint marred by the consecutive homers.

    "I was ready from the get-go in case anything happened," he said. "Something I was able to do at times this year, able to be down in the bullpen a little bit, and I was able to use that experience."

    St. Louis opened the second with four straight hits, singles by Craig and Yadier Molina that set the table followed by an RBI double from Freese and a run-scoring single from Descalso.

    Game notes

    Cardinals RHP Jake Westbrook, rehabbing from a pulled oblique, will leave the team for a few days to be with his wife, due to deliver the couple's fourth child. GM John Mozeliak said it's "not likely" that Westbrook, a 13-game winner, will be able to pitch this fall. ... Beltran has 13 career postseason homers. His last two-homer game in the postseason was Oct. 15, 2006, with the Mets against St. Louis in the NLCS. ... The Cardinals matched the franchise high for runs in a division series game. They also scored 12 in 2002 against Arizona.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumBusch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
    Attendance45,840 (104.2% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time3:27
    Weather61 degrees, sunny
    Wind12 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Marvin Hudson, First Base - Joe West, Second Base - Jim Joyce, Third Base - Alfonso Marquez

    Research Notes

    Carlos Beltran: 2nd player to have multi-homer game in postseason play both for and against a team. Beltran had one for the Cardinals today and also had one for the Mets against the Cardinals in 2006. Manny Ramirez is the other player to do this-- he had a multi-homer game both for and against the Red Sox (the one against the Red Sox came while with the Indians in 1998.
    Carlos Beltran is the 6th player in Cardinals postseason history with a multi-homer postseason game. He joins Willie McGee (1982 WS), Ron Gant (1996 NLCS), Larry Walker (2004 NLDS), Scott Rolen (2004 NLCS), and Albert Pujols (2011 WS).
    Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche homer in 5th inning - Zimmerman HR is first HR by franchise in postseason game since Jerry White in Game 3 of the 1981 NLCS. The homers by Zimmerman and LaRoche were back-to-back. It's the first time in franchise playoff history that they hit more than 1 HR in the same postseason game.
    Allen Craig: 5th career postseason HR; That's tied with David Freese and Scott Rolen for 4th-most in Cardinals history. Albert Pujols is the team leader with 18, followed by Jim Edmonds (13) and Larry Walker (6).
    The Cardinals pinch-hit for Jaime Garcia in the 2nd inning. Garcia lasted 2 innings despite allowing only one run. That's the second shortest postseason outing for a Cardinals starter that allowed one run or fewer. Howie Pollet lasted 1/3 of an inning in Game 5 of the 1946 World Series against the Red Sox, allowing one run and three hits. The only other time a team pinch-hit for its starting pitcher with the lead in the 2nd inning (or earlier) was in Game 5 of the 2003 World Series when the Yankees pinch-hit David Dellucci for injured starting pitcher David Wells in the top of the 2nd inning. Yankees were winning 1-0 at the time over the Marlins
    This is the 8th time the Cardinals have scored at least 12 runs in a postseason game. Only the Yankees have more such games.
    How the Cardinals beat Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann: - Zimmermann threw first-pitch strikes to six of 15 hitters (40 percent), the lowest percentage of his career. Zimmermann ranked second among qualified starters this season by starting 69 percent of hitters with a first-pitch strike. - He got ahead of five hitters 0-1 and retired all five. However, he started behind nine hitters 1-0 and six reached base, all by hits (he also allowed a hit on the first pitch of an at-bat). - In two regular-season starts this season against the Cardinals, Zimmermann gave up eight hits in 20 at-bats ending with his breaking pitches. Monday, Zimmermann threw his fastball a season-high 78 percent of the time. Even throwing his breaking balls that infrequently, he was still hurt by them. Cardinals hitters had three hits in four at-bats ending with a curveball or slider form Zimmermann Monday.
    The Cardinals blasted the Nationals in Game 2 with much of the damage coming off the bat of Carlos Beltran. He became just the 6th player in franchise history to hit multiple homers in a postseason game and the 1st to do so since Albert Pujols in Game 3 of the World Series last year.
    The Cardinals 8 runs against the Nationals today is the most runs allowed in the franchise's postseason history. The Dodgers had scored 7 against the Expos in Game 4 of the 1981 NLCS.

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