ST. LOUIS – Carlos Beltran, Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals are going to the World Series – not even Clayton Kershaw could stop them this year.
Beltran and the Cardinals stunned the Dodgers’ ace with a four-run third inning, Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the N.L. championship series Friday night.
Wacha, a rookie, was selected MVP of the series after throwing 13 2/3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the NLCS.
Matt Carpenter sparked St. Louis’ big third inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home and the Cardinals quickly removed all the suspense surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
“I’m so happy right now. We did it as a team,” Beltran said. “We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank god we’re here.”
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th N.L. pennant and will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.
The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach the World Series for the first time since winning it all in 1988.
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals turned to Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.
It was 52 degrees at game time, a 23-degree drop from the Kershaw-Wacha matchup in Game 2 six days earlier, and Kershaw never warmed up.
The top N.L. CY Young Award candidate was knocked out of a start for the first time this season without finishing the fifth inning.
Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in three postseason starts, one of the gems in Game 4 of the division series to keep the Cardinals alive. In his last regular-season start and the N.L. Central up for grabs, he no-hit the Nationals for 8 2/3 innings.
Kershaw was charged with seven runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings. The lefty led the majors in ERA the last three years but has lost five straight starts against St. Louis.
None of his starts this year were shorter than five innings and the most runs he allowed was five, on two occasions.