ST. LOUIS – Matched against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, the only thing Michael Wacha lacked was a no-hit watch.
“He’s becoming a guy a lot of teams wish they drafted,” Cardinals teammate David Freese said. “What he’s done is remarkable, especially on this stage.”
Wacha stared down a bases-loaded test in the sixth inning and pitched into the seventh and was nearly untouchable in a third-straight start, and the kids in the bullpen also were impervious to October pressure, keeping the Los Angeles bats silent for a second straight day as St. Louis won 1-0 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the N.L. championship series.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words to describe him,” said fellow rookie Kevin Siegrist, who got a big out to end the seventh. “It’s kind of ridiculous how well he’s done so far.”
The Cardinals managed only two hits off Kershaw and the Dodgers, but made Jon Jay’s sacrifice fly, set up by Freese’s double and A.J. Ellis’ passed ball in the fifth inning, stand up.
The Dodgers’ scoreless streak in the NLCS reached 19 innings after they averaged 6 1/2 runs in a four-game division series against Atlanta. Rookie Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth with a heater reaching 101 mph, fanning pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on three pitches to end it.
A day after outlasting Los Angeles 3-2 in 13 innings, the Cardinals moved two wins away from the World Series.
Game 3 is Monday at Dodger Stadium, with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright facing rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have already used their top two starters and are down 2-0.
“We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We don’t deny also what’s happened here the last two days.
“Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that.”
Hanley Ramirez and Ethier were out of the Dodgers’ lineup with injuries after starting in the opener. L.A. missed a handful of opportunities, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position for a two-day total of 1 for 16. Star rookie Yasiel Puig struck out in all four of his at-bats.
“We had our chances,” Kershaw said. “We had our chances, for sure. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Wacha.”
The teams may have been hindered by shadows creeping across Busch Stadium in a late-afternoon start, with lights providing no real help. Both also were no doubt fatigued, which might have shown on the crucial passed ball by Ellis that wound up resulting in an unearned run.