Cardinals finish Dodgers, advance to World Series

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Clayton Kershaw still
couldn’t beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Now he has the offseason to think
about what went wrong, along with Yasiel Puig and the rest of the Los
Angeles Dodgers.

Kershaw lasted four-plus innings before
getting pulled in a 9-0 loss to St. Louis on Friday night in Game 6 of
the NLCS, giving the Cardinals a spot in the World Series for the fourth
time in 10 seasons.

The Dodgers haven’t been there in 25 years.

Trying to overcome a 3-2 postseason
series deficit for the first time in franchise history, the Dodgers had
Cy Young favorite Kershaw going against rookie Michael Wacha. Like in
Game 2 of the series, a 1-0 Cardinals victory, Wacha got the win.

This time it wasn’t nearly as close.

Kershaw gave up seven runs on 10 hits
and two walks with five strikeouts. The last time he had such a bad
outing was also in St. Louis. He surrendered eight runs in five innings
July 24, 2012, against the Cardinals.

St. Louis handed Kershaw four losses
this season, including the two in the NLCS. Kershaw’s 5.09 ERA against
the Cardinals dwarfs his overall ERA of 2.06, which includes the
postseason.

Kershaw had allowed one earned run over
19 innings on eight hits during the postseason entering the game. He had
gone 17 consecutive innings without an earned run before the wheels
fell off in the third.

Matt Carpenter forced Kershaw to throw
11 pitches, fouling off eight of them, before starting the Cardinals’
four-run rally with a double down the right-field line. St. Louis used
five hits, two walks and was helped by a poor-advised throw and a
throwing error from Puig.

Kershaw got pulled in the fifth after
the first three batters reached on two singles and a double. St. Louis
scored five runs, despite not getting another hit in the inning.

Puig again aided St. Louis when he
booted Yadier Molina’s leadoff single, allowing the All-Star catcher to
reach second. Not that the Cuban rookie’s second error mattered, as the
Cardinals got all the help they needed elsewhere.

The Dodgers had a chance at a possible
double play, but got nothing when Mark Ellis couldn’t come up with a
grounder cleanly enough to even throw home for a possible force. J.P.
Howell added to the misery with a wild pitch, bringing home the
Cardinals’ final run.

Wacha didn’t allow the Dodgers much hope. He gave up two hits in seven innings, struck out five and walked one.

Los Angeles was attempting to reach the
World Series for the first time since 1988. The Dodgers reached the
NLCS in 2008 and 2009 but lost to Philadelphia both times.