ST. LOUIS — Wave goodbye to flash and flair. Say hello, once again, to the tried and true.
Using two big innings and another great outing from rookie right-hander Michael Wacha, the St. Louis Cardinals routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 Friday night at sold-out Busch Stadium to win the National League Championship Series 4-2.
St. Louis will play in its 19th World Series after winning the NLCS for the fourth time in 10 years. It opens Wednesday night at either Boston or Detroit, which play Game 6 of the ALCS Saturday night at Fenway Park.
Wacha beat Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the second time in the series, allowing just two hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings while fanning five. Wacha won all three of his postseason starts, yielding only eight hits and a run in 21 innings.
Kershaw lost for the fifth straight time against the Cardinals, dating back to last year. He coughed up 10 hits and seven runs, all earned, over four-plus innings with two walks and five strikeouts.
Los Angeles was seen as the favorite by many with its $200-plus million dollar payroll and outstanding starting pitching. But St. Louis never trailed in the series after winning a pair of one-run games at home, then broke out the bats after managing just 12 runs in the first five contests.
St. Louis took command with a four-run third inning. Matt Carpenter taxed Kershaw for 11 pitches before doubling down the right field line with one out, then rambled home on Carlos Beltran’s RBI single into right-center field.
One out later, Yadier Molina stroked a single up the middle to plate Beltran for a 2-0 lead. After David Freese singled and Matt Adams walked to fill the bases, first-time playoff starter Shane Robinson grounded a two-run single into right field for a 4-0 advantage.
The Cardinals knocked Kershaw out in the fifth when Matt Adams sliced an RBI double down the left field to plate Molina. St. Louis made it 6-0 when Adams scored on Wacha’s fielder’s choice grounder, beating the late throw of second baseman Mark Ellis.
Carpenter’s sacrifice fly off J.P. Howell, the third Los Angeles pitcher of the inning, chased Robinson home for a 7-0 margin. Howell wild-pitched Pete Kozma home and Beltran singled in Wacha to cap a five-run fifth.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles did little with Wacha through five innings, managing one hit and one walk — both by Carl Crawford.
NOTES: Former St. Louis SS Ozzie Smith threw out the first pitch. A Hall of Famer, Smith belted a rare homer in Game 5 of the 1985 NLCS against Los Angeles to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. … 1B Adrian Gonzalez’s two homers in Game 5 of this year’s NLCS represented the 10th time in Dodgers history they got a multi-homer game. … St. Louis entered the game batting just .178 in the NLCS as opposed to .234 for Los Angeles.