Game 2: Double by Freese leads to game's only run -- and it's enough

News-DemocratOctober 12, 2013 

— Jon Jay experienced a forgettable Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Friday when he was 0-for-5 and failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt.

Jay made amends Saturday afternoon, driving home the St. Louis Cardinals' only run with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly in a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers before 46,872 at Busch Stadium.

Jay's RBI and another scintillating showing by rookie Michael Wacha put the Cardinals ahead 2-0 in the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 scheduled for 7:07 p.m. Monday in Los Angeles.

"It felt good," said Jay, eager to put his Game 1 failures in the rearview mirror. "Yesterday was yesterday and today was a new day, so I was happy I was able to come through in that moment right there and (it) ended up being a big run."

Jay's fly ball against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw came after he was unable to lay down a squeeze bunt with David Freese on third.

Freese, who led off the fifth with a double into the left-field corner and advanced to third on catcher A.J. Ellis' passed ball, easily scampered home when Dodgers left fielder Carl Crawford wasn't in position to make a strong throw to the plate after catching Jay's fly.

"You're not going to get a lot of chances against the best pitcher in the league," said Freese, whose run was unearned. "Even though you lead off with a double, it doesn't really give you a good chance of scoring against a guy like that. So we're fortunate.

"Jon Jay, a heck of an AB (at-bat). We kind of botched the squeeze and he battled back and hit an extremely tough pitch into the outfield. It was deep enough, for sure."

The Cardinals had only two hits in the game --a triple by Matt Carpenter in the first and Freese's double --and they have nine in the series, yet hold a commanding advantage.

"Right now, we're enjoying these first two wins and we're happy where we're at," St. Louis right fielder Carlos Beltran said, trying to forget that the Cardinals failed to close out San Francisco after holding a 3-1 lead in the NLCS last year.

"That's in the past. Don't bring that up," he said, smiling.

Los Angeles' hitting remained abysmal, although Wacha's performance had much to do with the Dodgers' ineptitude.

Wacha allowed no runs on five hits in 6 2/3 innings, with one walk (intentional) and eight strikeouts before the bullpen took over. Kevin Siegrist, Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal threw 2 1/3 hitless innings to shut down the Dodgers.

Martinez struck out Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez to end the eighth, and Rosenthal gained the save by fanning Yasiel Puig, Juan Uribe and pinch-hitter Andre Ethier in the ninth.

"I was pretty locked in," Rosenthal said in the understatement of the day. "But there was a lot of energy in the stadium at that time."

Puig, the Dodgers' heralded rookie right fielder, is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts in the series. He's had plenty of company; Los Angeles is 1-for-16 (.063) with runners in scoring position and hasn't scored a run in 19 innings.

"Their guy threw the ball good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "I think you could see early on it was going to be a tough day to score. Obviously, we had a couple of chances ... and weren't able to capitalize. We've got to be able to execute with men on third."

Trailing 1-0 in the sixth, the Dodgers got a leadoff single from Kershaw. Crawford then hit a grounder between first and second on the outfield grass. Second baseman Carpenter made a diving stop, but threw wildly past second as he tried to force Kershaw.

Kershaw went to third as Crawford took second. Mark Ellis popped to second for the first out, and after an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases, Wacha struck out Puig and Uribe.

"I got myself in a little jam with the bases loaded," Wacha said. "I was trying to get locked in with Yadier (Molina). We took some time in between batters, a lot of mound visits, to make sure we were on the same page. I was pretty pumped up after I got a couple of strikeouts there to end the inning and keep our team in the lead."

Los Angeles' final chance came in the seventh when Punto singled with two outs and went to third after two wild pitches by Siegrist. But Michael Young, batting for Kershaw, flied out to right.

"I was trying to keep two changeups down," Siegrist said. "Knowing that, I kind of had the death grip on them."

Carpenter got the Cardinals' first off to a promising start when he tripled to the gap in right-center. But Kershaw recovered, getting Game 1 hero Beltran on a popout to third base, Matt Holliday on a strikeout and Molina on a grounder to short.

Kershaw retired nine straight from the first through the third. He walked Beltran to open the fourth, but Holliday hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Kershaw walked one and struck out five in six innings.

Mark Ellis singled with one out in the first, but Wacha set down 13 in a row before A.J. Ellis doubled with two outs in the fifth. Former Cardinal Nick Punto struck out to end the threat.

"The way this kid has gone about it ... it's really hard to describe," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the 21-year-old Wacha. "I don't want to keep describing it, because I'd like to watch it happen a few more times. But he's going about it the right way."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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