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NLDS game three: Cardinals 8, Nationals 0

Stop me if you've heard this one before. But the Cardinals have found another gear in the playoffs and stand on the verge of knocking out the team with the best record in the National League.

While the story remains the same, the faces are different. In 2011 the Birds knocked off the mighty Phillies. This year the Cardinals lead the first place Nationals 2-1 in their NLDS match-up thanks to a dominating Wednesday 8-0 road win.

The Cardinals led 1-0 after one inning thanks to a Matt Holliday single and an Allen Craig double with two outs. But the big blow came in the second when David Freese and Daniel Descalso got on base in front of rookie shortstop Peter Kozma. And Kozma took an Edwin Jackson pitch into the left field seats for a three-run homer.

Washington fans booed and booed. But after the rough starts, Jackson calmed down and pitched three more innings without giving up a run. Meanwhile, St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter battled for 5 2/3 innings, allowing no runs on seven hits and a pair of walks. He struck out two in only his fourth start of the season after surgery to remove a rib that improved nerve function in his pitching shoulder. The win was his first since game seven of the 2011 World Series and the 10th in 12 post season decisions over his career.

The Cardinals pulled away with a sacrifice fly by Descalso, a bases loaded walk from Yadier Molina and a two-out hit from Matt Holliday to provide the final 8-0 score.

In all, the Birds pounded out 14 hits with Holliday collecting three and Jon Jay, Beltran, Freese and Carpenter notching two each. A career .118 batter, Carpenter lined a ball off the top of the left field wall, missing a home run by inches.

Cardinals Star of the Game: Carpenter is the best big game pitcher of his generation and showed everyone why today with a game that was short on polish but huge in the department of guts. 

Cardinals Play of the Game: Kozma's home run is the no brainer here. But Carlos Beltran had a couple of nice catches that deserve honorable mention. One was a jumping grab up against the right field wall. The other was a running shoestring grab near the foul line.

Lowlight: Nothing to complain about Wednesday. But I do wish the Cardinals would have hit a little more in game one like they have in two and three. If they had, this series would be over. And the Nationals are too good to take for granted.