Cardinals rough up Kershaw, headed to World Series

Clayton Kershaw was long gone. Michael Wacha kept Dodgers
hitters down, ignoring the surprisingly big lead and pitching as if
the opposing ace was still dealing.

The rookie left no doubt in a 9-0 rout Friday night that put the
St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the second time in
three years and kicked Los Angeles’ high-dollar roster to the
curb.

”Yeah, anytime you’re going to face Clayton Kershaw, you’re
probably going to have to match zeros against him,” Wacha said
after getting the best of Kershaw for the second time in the
series. ”You know, our guys just battled out there today.

”It was so much fun to watch in the dugout.”

Matt Carpenter’s double capped an 11-pitch at-bat that got a
sellout crowd for Game 6 into the spirit of things and triggered a
four-run third, and the St. Louis offense didn’t let up. He’d been
just hoping to put the ball in play after striking out in the
first.

”I don’t remember how many it was, but I just kept fouling them
off,” Carpenter said. ”He finally made a mistake with the slider
out over the plate.

”From then on, really, you’ve got to give all the credit to our
offense.”

Carlos Beltran’s RBI single put the Cardinals ahead, his latest
postseason contribution. The Cardinals batted around in the third,
then added five more runs in the fifth.

Kershaw is the majors’ ERA champion three years running and is
the front-runner for NL Cy Young. He pitched the division series
clincher against Atlanta but never recovered from the epic
Carpenter at-bat.

To get out of the third he needed 48 pitches – most in his
career.

”I don’t think you really think about it during the inning,”
Kershaw said. ”You’re just trying to get outs. I just didn’t
enough of them, fast enough.”

Wacha was named MVP of the series. He threw seven innings of
two-hit ball in the clincher and totaled 13 2-3 scoreless
innings.

The Cardinals rebounded from a Game 5 loss and early on removed
tension from last fall when they squandered a 3-1 NLCS lead and
faded badly against the Giants.

They won their 19th NL pennant and will try for their third
World Series title since 2006. The opener is Wednesday at the
winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit
Tigers.

”It just adds to the legacy of this franchise,” chairman Bill
DeWitt Jr. said during the champagne celebration in the clubhouse.
”It’s a thrill to be involved with it, and to see these guys
perform the way they did.”

The Dodgers have the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220
million but haven’t been to the World Series since winning it all
in 1988.

”Going through spring, the long season, and then it just comes
to a crash,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ”So, it’s
disappointing for all of us.”

It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the
previous Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and
Kershaw never warmed up.

The lefty wasn’t in the mood to talk about a season in which he
had a majors-best 1.83 ERA, either. For the first time all season,
he failed to finish the fifth.

”If you don’t win, what’s the point?” Kershaw said. ”It
doesn’t really matter. All this stuff.”

The 36-year-old Beltran had three hits and two RBIs, giving him
37 RBIs in 45 career postseason games, and made a nice catch in
right field. He’s about to play in the World Series for the first
time in his 16-year career.

Rookie Yasiel Puig also had a rough Game 6 for the Dodgers with
two errors in right field to go with two strikeouts, and was booed
throughout the game. Hanley Ramirez, a last-minute addition to the
Dodgers’ lineup, went 0 for 3 while playing with a broken rib.

Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one
of the gems coming in Game 4 of the division series at Pittsburgh
to keep the Cardinals alive. In his last regular season start and
the NL Central up for grabs, he no-hit the Nationals for 8 2-3
innings.

Beltran was the star of the Cardinals’ 3-2, 13-inning Game 1
victory, driving in all three runs plus making a perfect throw home
to keep it tied in extra innings.

Kershaw was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus
innings Friday and has lost five straight starts against the
Cardinals.

NOTES: Cardinals Hall of Fame SS Ozzie Smith threw the first
pitch. … Beltran has a .331 career postseason average. …
Ramirez batted .133 in the NLCS (2 for 15) with a pair of singles
and one RBI.