SAINT LOUIS – Carlos Beltran’s walk-off single in the 13th inning lifted St. Louis to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday in game one of the National League Championship Series.
Beltran did it all for the Cardinals, driving in all three of their runs and throwing out a runner at home plate in the 10th inning to keep the score knotted at 2-2.
His exploits let the Cardinals gain a quick upper hand over the Dodgers in the opening game of the best-of-seven series, from which the winners advance to Major League Baseball’s World Series.
The Cardinals, who closed out Pittsburgh with a game-five victory on Wednesday, didn’t have long to savor their latest triumph.
Game two of the series was set for Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, where the Cardinals will send rookie pitcher Michael Wacha to the mound and the Dodgers will give the ball to ace Clayton Kershaw.
It was past midnight in St. Louis when Beltran brought the four-hour, 47-minute marathon to an end with a single off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen that scored Daniel Descalso from second base.
Pinch hitter Descalso had blooped a single to center off losing pitcher Chris Withrow with one out in the 13th and Matt Carpenter then walked on four pitches.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly sent Jansen to the mound, and Jansen promptly fell behind Beltran 3-1. Beltran’s single to right field then left Los Angeles with no play to the plate as Descalso raced home.
“Right down the middle,” Beltran said of the pitch. “I don’t blame him, because he was trying to make a pitch. He’s behind the count and he’s trying to make a pitch.
“But in that case, I was trying to hit the ball hard. I wasn’t really looking for anything more than a hit.”
Lance Lynn, the seventh Cardinals pitcher used in the contest, was credited with the win after tossing two scoreless innings.
The Dodgers let myriad chances to win slip away. They put two runners on base in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings but couldn’t break the 2-2 deadlock that had stood since the third inning.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the top of the third and Juan Uribe’s single plated two runs to give them a 2-0 lead.
St. Louis responded in the bottom of the frame, with pitcher Joe Kelly getting the Cards’ first hit off Los Angeles starting pitcher Zack Greinke.
Greinke then walked Matt Carpenter and Beltran hit a drive off the center field wall that a leaping Andre Ethier failed to catch, allowing both Kelly and Carpenter to score.
Beltran was a key contributor defensively in the 10th, when the Dodgers’ Mark Ellis tripled then attempted to score from third on a fly out to right field.
He got the ball to catcher Yadier Molina, who held onto the ball as Ellis raced in to secure the double play.
“As soon as that ball was hit in the air, I told Jon Jay “I got it, I got it I got it,'” Beltran said. “He let me catch the ball. I knew I had a better angle than him. I thank God that I was able to make a good play. Yadi was able to catch that ball and tag that guy out.”
Cardinals manger Mike Matheny was certainly entertained.
“It’s just fun to watch him do his thing,” Matheny said.