ST. LOUIS — The party started early Friday night at Busch Stadium.
Rookie Michael Wacha threw seven scoreless innings and the St. Louis Cardinals scored four runs in the third inning and five more in the fifth to overwhelm the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6, winning the National League Championship Series 4-2.
Wacha allowed two hits, walked one and struck out five in seven scoreless innings, easily outdueling Los Angeles ace Clayton Kershaw, who lost to the Cardinals for the second time in the playoffs and the fourth time this season.
Wacha improved to 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, showing his stuff before a crowd of 46,899. Twice in the NLCS, he defeated Kershaw, the favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award. Kershaw allowed seven runs (earned) on 10 hits in four-plus innings, with two walks and five strikeouts.
"It was so much fun to watch in the dugout," Wacha said. "Whenever they put up those nine runs, that makes my job so much easier. I was able to go out there and try to fill up the zone and try not to walk anybody ... or not really play around with them. That kind of deal."
The Cardinals kidnapped all the drama with their two big innings, taking charge and keeping the pedal to the metal.
"Things just unfolded a little bit in those two innings," third baseman David Freese said. "We're fortunate. That team is dynamite over there.
"We had to attack the game. We couldn't play one second on our heels. That's what it's all about, especially against a team like that at this stage of the year. You've got to attack the game."
St. Louis reached the World Series for the fourth time in 10 years and will play at Boston or at Detroit in Game 1 on Wednesday. The Cardinals' NLCS title erased bitter memories of last season when they blew a 3-1 lead and lost to San Francisco.
"I'm very proud of these guys," second-year Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "It's not about me. This is about these guys. I try to get out of the way --like today."
Right fielder Carlos Beltran, who had two hits and two RBIs, will play in his first Fall Classic after 2,109 big-league games.
"I get emotional and I get happy," said Beltran, who broke into the major leagues in 1998. "Today is a very important day in my career as a ballplayer. Today when I woke up, I woke up with the feeling that we were going to do it. I felt we played good at home. We always believe in ourselves and we're happy to get it done."
The Dodgers managed just three baserunners against Wacha and relievers Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. A.J. Ellis was the only player to reach second base with a sixth-inning double.
St. Louis sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth and nine more in the fifth as they opened a commanding lead against Kershaw and relievers Ronald Belisario and J.P. Howell.
Beltran and Yadier Molina had RBI singles and Shane Robinson added a two-run single in the third.
Matt Adams had an RBI double to knock out Kershaw in the fifth, Wacha had a fielder's choice for an RBI, Matt Carpenter had a sacrifice fly, Beltran had an RBI single and Pete Kozma scored on a wild pitch by Belisario.
Carpenter fueled the third-inning uprising with an 11-pitch at-bat that ended with a one-out double into the right-field corner against Kershaw. The at-bat included seven consecutive foul balls.
"That was one of those special at-bats," Carpenter said. "That was probably one of the best at-bats I've had in my career, given the circumstances and the guy it was against. Fouling off those pitches, the crowd kind of got into it. It was a cool thing, and then I got a pitch I could hit. We ended up having a big inning."
Beltran followed with a single to the right of second baseman Mark Ellis that easily scored Carpenter. Beltran took second when right fielder Yasiel Puig lobbed an off-the-mark throw to the infield.
The play was costly to the Dodgers when Molina shot a single to center one out later to score Beltran and make it 2-0.
Freese then singled to center and Adams walked to load the bases for Robinson, who started in center field for Jon Jay.
Robinson, who singled to left in the first inning, grounded a two-run hit to right to score Molina and Freese. Adams and Robinson moved up a base on Puig's high throw over catcher A.J. Ellis.
"I was pretty calm," Robinson said. "I had a good idea what (Kershaw) was going to give me. We all had a great approach tonight, and we capitalized. We got his pitch count up early."
The Dodgers intentionally walked Kozma, and pitcher Wacha struck out to end the inning. Kershaw threw 48 pitches in the inning, giving him 81 through three.
Carl Crawford had the only other hit against Wacha --an infield single to short in the first. But Mark Ellis rolled into a 6-4-3 double play and Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to third.
The fifth began with a singles by Molina and Freese. Adams doubled into the left-field corner to score Molina and make it 5-0.
One out later, Kozma was walked to load the bases. Wacha grounded to second baseman Ellis, who bobbled the ball and threw late to the plate, allowing Adams to score to make it 6-0.
Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly to left against Howell to make it 7-0, Beltran singled to make it 8-0 and Kozma scored on a wild pitch.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.