Wacha, Cards nip Dodgers for 2-0 lead

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 12, 2013
Rookie Michael Wacha pitched into the seventh inning with zero margin for error and the St. Louis Cardinals silenced the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second straight day, winning 1-0 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series. The Cardinals managed only two hits off Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, but Jon Jay's sacrifice fly set up by A.J. Ellis' passed ball in the fifth stood up. The Dodgers' scoreless streak in the NLCS reached 19 innings. Rookie fireballer Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth with a heater reaching 101 mph, fanning pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on three pitches to end it. A day after outlasting Los Angeles 3-2 in 13 innings, the Cardinals moved two wins away from the World Series. Game 3 is Monday at Dodger Stadium, with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright facing rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. Hanley Ramirez and Ethier were out of the Dodgers' lineup with injuries after starting in the opener. Los Angeles missed several chances to score, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position for a two-day total of 1 for 16. The teams may have been hindered by shadows creeping across Busch Stadium in a late-afternoon start, with lights providing no real help. Both also were no doubt fatigued, which might have shown on the crucial passed ball by Ellis that wound up resulting in an unearned run. Wacha was nearly untouchable for the third straight start, allowing five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in 6 2-3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander was one out away from a no-hitter in his last start of the regular season, losing it on an infield hit by Washington's Ryan Zimmerman. Wacha ignored a crowd chanting his name in Game 4 of the division series at Pittsburgh, holding the Pirates hitless for 7 1-3 innings to bring the series back home. In 22 2-3 innings in his last three starts, Wacha has given up two runs on seven hits with 26 strikeouts and five walks. The 6-6 right-hander stared down the only real trouble spot, too, striking out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe with the bases loaded to end the sixth. Kershaw led off with a single, and runners were on second and third after second baseman Matt Carpenter slid in shallow right to glove Carl Crawford's infield hit but threw it away for an error trying to get a forceout at second. Adrian Gonzalez was walked intentionally to load the bases and the Dodgers 4-5 hitters coming up. Puig struck out on a fastball in the dirt and Uribe had a feeble cut chasing a 1-2 pitch out of the zone. Carpenter tripled on Kershaw's first pitch of the game but didn't budge when the lefty retired the next three on nine pitches. The Cardinals had another runner at third with nobody out in the fifth after David Freese doubled and advanced on a passed ball by Ellis, This time they converted on Jay's sacrifice fly to shallow left as Crawford's throw was well offline. The previous pitch the Cardinals tried to squeeze in a run with the Dodgers infield playing in, but Jay fouled off a 1-1 pitch. Kershaw worked six snappy innings, needing just 72 pitches. He gave up two hits and struck out five. The majors' ERA leader had plenty left, too, but the Dodgers needed runs and manager Don Mattingly opted for pinch-hitter Michael Young after Nick Punto's two-out single in the seventh. The Cardinals lifted Wacha for another stingy rookie. Lefty Kevin Siegriest, who had a minuscule 0.45 ERA in his debut season, threw a pair of wild pitches before getting Young on a flyout to end the seventh. Relievers Randy Choate and Carlos Martinez pitched the eighth for St. Louis before turning it over to Rosenthal. The Cardinals handed Kershaw two of his nine losses this season and have beaten him four consecutive times overall. NOTES: SS Ramirez was a late scratch with sore ribs after getting plunked in the first inning of Game 1. Ethier has been slowed by a sore ankle. ... Carpenter has a hit each of the first two games after entering the NLCS in a 3 for 39 slump.
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