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St. Louis at Milwaukee

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St. Louis (4-2) «41402001012140
Milwaukee (2-4)130110000673

Cardinals start fast, club Brewers, reach World Series

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MILWAUKEE -- An afterthought in early September, the St. Louis Cardinals needed every last victory just to reach the postseason. Now, this wild ride is headed to the World Series.

"We believe," third baseman David Freese said. "I think that's what you've got to do in this game. We've got a group of guys with some talent, desire, and just a ton of heart."

Freese hit a three-run homer in the first and manager Tony La Russa turned again to his brilliant bullpen for seven sturdy innings as St. Louis captured its 18th pennant with a 12-6 victory against the bumbling Milwaukee Brewers on Sunday night.

NLCS: Cardinals at Brewers
Analysis
Scott Miller Scott Miller
The bullpen truly saves the NLCS for the Cardinals, whose staff fails to get a starter past the fifth inning. Read More>>
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Albert Pujols and the wild-card Cardinals took out the heavily favored Phillies in the first round, then dispatched the division-rival Brewers on their own turf in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

"I mean, you could have never known," Pujols said.

Freese, often overlooked in a lineup anchored by All-Stars, batted .545 with three home runs and nine RBI to earn series MVP honors.

Looking for its second title in six seasons, St. Louis opens the World Series at home Wednesday night with ace Chris Carpenter on the mound against the AL champion Texas Rangers.

"Your goal is to win it," Pujols said. "Nobody talks about second place. Everybody talks about who wins it. That's our main goal."

Trailing by 10½ games in the wild-card race on Aug. 25, the Cardinals surged down the stretch and took advantage of a monumental collapse by Atlanta to win a playoff spot on the final night of the regular season.

In a twist of fate, it was Philadelphia that helped them into the postseason by completing a three-game sweep of the Braves.

"Improbable, incredible, overwhelming," La Russa said. "This one here has its own mark, because coming from that far back is historic I think. That's what they tell me. And having to win on the road, Philadelphia, these guys."

Now, bolstered by a group of no-name relievers who keep answering La Russa's call, the Cardinals are back in the World Series for the first time since beating Detroit in 2006.

What a relief!

"Well, it was crazy," outfielder Matt Holliday said. "We had a lot of adversity, but we found a way."

It was a disappointing end to a scintillating season for Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun and the NL Central champion Brewers, who finished with a franchise-record 96 victories, six games ahead of St. Louis.

Baseball's best home team collapsed in the NLCS, though, losing twice at Miller Park in an error-filled flop. It was likely Fielder's final game with the Brewers, too. He can become a free agent after the season.

"I had to clear the throat once, but it was all right. I love these guys," said Fielder, a first-round draft pick in 2002. "I've been playing with most of them since I was 18. So this organization has been great to me."

Rafael Furcal and Pujols hit solo home runs off Chris Narveson and St. Louis built a 9-4 lead by the time the bullpen took over for Edwin Jackson in the third inning.

The group of Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte allowed two runs the rest of the way. For the series, St. Louis relievers finished 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA over 28 2/3 innings.

The biggest scare came when Pujols was shaken up after tagging out Braun in the fifth inning when he fell hard on his right forearm on a close play at first base. The three-time MVP was slow to get up, but stayed in the game.

"I got spiked, and then [Rzepczynski] kind of stepped on my right knee, but it was a do-or-die play," Pujols said. "I'm glad, you know, we got the out."

The Cardinals needed a shutout from Carpenter to beat the Phillies 1-0 in Game 5 of the NLDS, but took control of this series beginning in Game 2 by jumping out to early leads and letting the bullpen lead the way.

La Russa called on his relievers 28 times in the NLCS and Jackson's start was the shortest of the postseason for the Cardinals rotation, which finished the NLCS with a 7.66 ERA. St. Louis became the first team to win a postseason series without a starter reaching the sixth inning, according to STATS LLC.

Freese gave his teammates credit while accepting the MVP award.

"I wish we could make eight or nine of these and give them to our bullpen. They're the reason why we won this series," he said.

Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks and Jonathan Lucroy all homered for the Brewers, who won a major league-most 57 times at Miller Park this season and four straight in the postseason before losing Game 2 to the Cardinals.

It was the two ugly defensive performances that will likely linger for Milwaukee, which committed four errors in a 7-1 loss in Game 5 and added three more in Game 6.

"You can't get away with mistakes to them and we made way too many mistakes," manager Ron Roenicke said.

The Brewers' biggest hitters -- Braun, Fielder and Weeks -- finished 1 for 12 in Game 6. Fielder, the All-Star game MVP and the reason St. Louis will start at home on Wednesday, received a standing ovation in his final at-bat in the eighth. He grounded out and slowly walked back to the dugout with his head down.

Struggling starter Shaun Marcum never really gave Milwaukee a chance and was hurt by defensive plays that weren't ruled errors.

In the first, Jon Jay singled with one out and stole second when Weeks couldn't hold onto Lucroy's low throw. Marcum believed he had strike three on Pujols, who ended up walking.

Lance Berkman singled for the second time in 18 career at-bats against Marcum to drive in the first run, and center fielder Nyjer Morgan made an ill-advised throw to third that let Berkman reach second.

Marcum saved a run by grabbing Holliday's dribbler and flipping it out of his glove to Lucroy to get Pujols at the plate, but Freese homered on the next pitch to make it 4-0 and extend his postseason hitting streak to 10 games.

Marcum was finished after the first, ending his postseason 0-3 with a 14.90 ERA.

"They were some kind of team in that first inning. We couldn't get away with anything," Roenicke said. "We didn't make good pitches. But we just never had a chance to get into our comfort zone."

Furcal homered off Chris Narveson in the second and Pujols hit a drive to left in the third to give St. Louis a 6-4 lead.

Holliday then singled, Freese doubled and the Brewers intentionally walked Yadier Molina with one out. Nick Punto hit a sacrifice fly and pinch-hitter Allen Craig singled in two more runs off LaTroy Hawkins to make it 9-4.

Yuniesky Betancourt's RBI double in the fourth cut the lead to 9-5, but Milwaukee fell apart in the fifth with three errors in a span of two plays.

First, Hart bobbled Freese's single in right field, allowing Holliday to reach third.

Holliday scored on the next play when third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. committed two errors. He booted Molina's grounder and then flipped the ball out of his glove through Weeks' legs at second.

"They outplayed us," Roenicke said. "They're a good team and they outplayed us."

Pinch-hitter Adron Chambers' sacrifice fly gave St. Louis an 11-5 lead in the fifth. In the bottom of the inning, Braun's groundout cut the lead to 11-6, but the focus was on Pujols when he was slow to get up.

La Russa came out to check on his star, who gripped his right forearm and had a brief limp, but stayed in the game. He looked better later, contributing a two-out RBI single in the eighth for the final margin.

Jackson allowed Hart and Weeks to lead off the first two innings with home runs and Lucroy added a two-run shot to cut the lead to 5-4 in the second. St. Louis answered back with four more runs, keyed when Jackson was pulled for Craig, who delivered his two-run single.

Salas caught a break in the third when Jay made a leaping catch of Fielder's drive at the wall in right-center. Jay added another spectacular grab, crashing into the padding in the ninth with Motte on the mound.

One out later, the celebration was on.

"It's kind of surreal that we're here," Freese said. "But this team deserves what we've been rewarded."

Notes

  • St. Louis joins the Dodgers and Giants with 18 World Series appearances, second only to the Yankees (40).
  • It was Milwaukee's 26th loss at Miller Park this season. Marcum started 13 of those games.
  • Furcal has hit six of his nine homers this season against the Brewers.
  • Marcum gave up 34 runs over his final 34 innings dating to Sept. 9.
  • The Miller Park roof was closed with the game-time temperature 55 degrees and a strong autumn wind blowing throughout the day. Inside, it was 67 degrees.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Players of the Game
Milwaukee

J. Lucroy
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
St. Louis

D. Freese
AB 4
R 3
H 3
HR 1
RBI 3
 

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St. Louis Cardinals
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Rafael Furcal, SS4111002 .204
Jon Jay, CF4110121 .216
Albert Pujols, 1B4122111 .419
Lance Berkman, RF5111002 .237
Matt Holliday, LF5320020 .375
David Freese, 3B4333000 .425
    Lance Lynn, P0000000 .000
   a- Ryan Theriot, PH1000000 .350
    Jason Motte, P0000000 .000
Yadier Molina, C4120110 .279
Nick Punto, 2B4001044 .143
Edwin Jackson, P1000010 .250
   b- Allen Craig, PH1012000 .222
    Fernando Salas, P0000000 .000
   c- Adron Chambers, PH0001000 .200
    Marc Rzepczynski, P0000000 .000
    Octavio Dotel, P0000000 .000
   d- Daniel Descalso, PH-3B1110000 .167
Totals38121411311  
a-grounded out for Lynn in the 9th
b-singled for Jackson in the 3rd
c-hit a sacrifice fly for Salas in the 5th
d-singled for Dotel in the 8th
Batting
2B - David Freese (5, Narveson)
HR - Rafael Furcal (1, Narveson), Albert Pujols (2, Narveson), David Freese (4, Marcum)
SF - Nick Punto (1), Adron Chambers (1)
SH - Rafael Furcal (2)
RBI - Rafael Furcal (2), Albert Pujols 2 (10), Lance Berkman (6), David Freese 3 (14), Nick Punto (3), Allen Craig 2 (3), Adron Chambers (2)
2-OUT RBI - Rafael Furcal (2), Albert Pujols (2), David Freese 3 (7), Allen Craig 2 (2)
SB - Jon Jay (1, 2nd base off Marcum/Lucroy)
Team LOB - 5
St. Louis Cardinals
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Edwin Jackson 2444023 5.84
Fernando Salas 2211130 1.86
Marc Rzepczynski (W,1-0) 2.1111010 6.35
Octavio Dotel 0.2000010 1.35
Lance Lynn 1000010 0.00
Jason Motte 1000010 0.00
HBP - Gomez (by Octavio Dotel)
WP - Marc Rzepczynski (1)
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 48-0, Fernando Salas 43-0, Marc Rzepczynski 30-0, Octavio Dotel 10-0, Lance Lynn 18-0, Jason Motte 12-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 1-3, Fernando Salas 1-2, Marc Rzepczynski 5-1, Lance Lynn 1-1, Jason Motte 1-1
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 10, Fernando Salas 9, Marc Rzepczynski 8, Octavio Dotel 3, Lance Lynn 3, Jason Motte 3
Milwaukee Brewers
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Corey Hart, RF4111012 .244
Nyjer Morgan, CF2000010 .179
   a- Carlos Gomez, PH-CF1110000 .357
Ryan Braun, LF4001021 .405
Prince Fielder, 1B4000000 .237
Rickie Weeks, 2B4111010 .146
Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B4220010 .385
Yuniesky Betancourt, SS4011001 .310
Jonathan Lucroy, C3112011 .250
   b- George Kottaras, PH1000000 .000
Shaun Marcum, P0000000 .000
    Chris Narveson, P1000010 .000
    LaTroy Hawkins, P0000000 .000
   c- Casey McGehee, PH0000100 .200
    Kameron Loe, P0000000 .000
    Takashi Saito, P0000000 .000
   d- Craig Counsell, PH1000000 .000
    Francisco Rodriguez, P0000000 .000
    John Axford, P0000000 .000
   e- Mark Kotsay, PH1000010 .083
Totals3467619  
a-singled for Morgan in the 5th
b-flied out for Lucroy in the 9th
c-walked for Hawkins in the 4th
d-grounded out for Saito in the 7th
e-struck out for Axford in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jerry Hairston Jr. (6, Salas), Yuniesky Betancourt (3, Salas)
HR - Corey Hart (2, Jackson), Rickie Weeks (2, Jackson), Jonathan Lucroy (1, Jackson)
RBI - Corey Hart (5), Ryan Braun (10), Rickie Weeks (4), Yuniesky Betancourt (6), Jonathan Lucroy 2 (5)
Team LOB - 3
Fielding
DP - Weeks-Fielder
E - Jerry Hairston Jr. 2 (4, Throwing), Corey Hart (1, Misplayed grounder)
Milwaukee Brewers
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Shaun Marcum (L,0-3) 1344111 14.90
Chris Narveson 1.2455132 11.05
LaTroy Hawkins 1.1100100 0.00
Kameron Loe 1220010 8.31
Takashi Saito 2100030 0.00
Francisco Rodriguez 1211010 1.80
John Axford 1100020 1.29
IBB - Molina by Chris Narveson
Pitches-Strikes - Shaun Marcum 27-0, Chris Narveson 44-0, LaTroy Hawkins 15-0, Kameron Loe 20-0, Takashi Saito 24-0, Francisco Rodriguez 16-0, John Axford 19-0
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Shaun Marcum 1-1, Chris Narveson 1-1, LaTroy Hawkins 1-2, Kameron Loe 2-1, Takashi Saito 1-2, Francisco Rodriguez 1-1, John Axford 1-0
Batters Faced - Shaun Marcum 7, Chris Narveson 10, LaTroy Hawkins 5, Kameron Loe 6, Takashi Saito 7, Francisco Rodriguez 5, John Axford 4
Game Information
Attendance - 43926
Game Time - 3:43
Temperature - 67
Umpires - Home - Mike Winters, First Base - Gary Darling, Second Base - Tim Timmons, Third Base - Sam Holbrook