The Cardinals looked at one point in the first inning of the third game of the NLCS like they would never stop scoring runs. But, oh, they did.
After a four-run outburst against Yovani Gallardo in the initial frame, the Birds couldn't dent the plate again. Miraculously, despite a shaky start from St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter that saw him give back three quarters of his cushion by the middle of the third inning, the Birds were able to stop the bleeding there and hang on for a 4-3 win.
Carpenter. who pitched the game of his life in his previous start to close out the Phillies in the NLDS, was in trouble in each of his five innings Wednesday. Things might have gotten out of hand if not for a nifty play in the first by Jon Jay who ran down a ball in centerfield and then threw a peg to second base to beat the base runner who couldn't get back in time for an unusual double play.
The bullpen pitched in with four scoreless innings from Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte. Rzepczynski struck out Prince Fielder in the eighth -- the only man he faced -- then yielded to Motte who got the final four outs.
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In the bottom of the first St. Louis shortstop Rafael Furcal bounced a single up the middle and took second base on a wild pitch. Jay lined a ball to centerfield that Brewers outfielder Mark Kotsay couldn't quite reach to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Albert Pujols hit a long gapper to left centerfield that hopped over the wall for an RBI ground rule double to make it 2-0. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman walked to load the bases and Yadier Molina came to the dish with a chance to put things out of reach early. But he grounded into a double play that pushed a third run across the plate. David Freese then hit a long fly to right field just over the glove of Corey Hart for a double that concluded the scoring at four runs.
In the top of the second Milwaukee scored a pair and in the third the Brewers got another. But that was as close as they could get and the Redbirds were able to take a two games to one lead in the NLCS.