In St Louis, the hosts piled on four runs in the first inning and clung on to edge Milwaukee and take a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Albert Pujols hit an RBI double during the first for the Cardinals, who crept closer to a World Series appearance that was unthinkable when they were a long way out of the playoff picture before a late-season surge.
In a matchup of aces, neither St Louis’ Chris Carpenter nor Milwaukee’s Yovani Gallardo made it past the fifth inning. The one-run lead Carpenter handed over to the bullpen was just enough, as four relievers combined for four -perfect innings.
Jason Motte got four outs for this save and struck out pinch hitter Casey McGehee to end it.
Carpenter won his seventh postseason game to tie Bob Gibson’s franchise record, but with none of the brilliance of his shutout over the favored Phillies in the deciding game of the division series. He lasted only five innings, with nearly half of his 89 pitches for balls.
The Cardinals went through the entire batting order in the first against Gallardo, who often struggles against St Louis. He trailed 2-0 after his first 12 pitches and barely made it out of the first trailing 4-0. He walked three, one of them intentional, and the Brewers had Chris Narveson warming up in the bullpen before the inning ended when Yadier Molina grounded into a double play, scoring the fourth run. Gallardo trudged to the dugout after his 33-pitch ordeal.
Jon Jay and David Freese hit RBI doubles in the first for St Louis, who were 3-for-4 with runners in scoring position in the first inning but 0-for-7 over the rest of the game, hitting into three double plays and stranding nine runners.
Luckily for the Brewers, Carpenter did not have his “A” game, either. He issued a walk and a hit batsman in the Brewers’ first three plate appearances.
Carpenter escaped thanks partly to a mistake by Milwaukee’s Mark Kotsay, who strayed too far off second base on Prince Fielder’s lineout to center and was caught out by Jay’s strong throw to end the inning.
However, Carpenter did not look comfortable in the second or the third, either.
The Brewers opened the second with three straight singles with Yuniesky Betancourt getting the RBI. Gallardo added a sacrifice fly that cut the deficit to 4-2.
Kotsay homered leading off the third to slice the gap to one run, but neither side managed to produce a run for the rest of the game.