for this game

Cards score early, ride pitching to grab 2-1 lead

Oct 13, 2011 - 5:59 AM St. Louis, MO (Sports Network) - Staked with a four-run lead, Chris Carpenter and the St. Louis Cardinals bullpen shut down the Milwaukee Brewers to win Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, 4-3, at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals batted around in a four-run first inning, though their NL Central rivals chipped away at the lead and pulled within a run when Mark Kotsay homered into the right-field bullpen leading off the third.

But Carpenter (2-0) allowed just one more hit in his five-inning start and a relief effort consisting of Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte combined for four perfect frames to take a 2-1 series lead.

"It's not going to work very often that you can put four zeros against their offense. But each guy came in and really stepped up," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought they were really aggressive, they threw good strikes and didn't fall behind."

Albert Pujols continued his torrid postseason by going 2-for-2 with two walks and a run-scoring double, while David Freese added to his October heroics with three hits, including the deciding RBI double in the first.

Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo (1-1) was touched for four runs on eight hits and five walks while battling through five innings.

Milwaukee will look to even the series on Thursday when Randy Wolf takes the mound opposite Kyle Lohse, who will be pitching on 12 days rest. Both pitchers lost their only starts this postseason.

Gallardo was nothing short of dominant in the Division Series against Arizona, as he allowed just two runs in 14 innings.

The Cardinals had always been a thorn in Gallardo's side, however, and were fresh off a 12-3 pounding in Game 2, countering a loss in the opener.

They continued the offensive outburst early on Wednesday by putting their first five hitters on base. Rafael Furcal led off with a single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored when Jon Jay sent a ball to center that got under Kotsay's glove in center and skipped away from a charging Ryan Braun.

Pujols, who went 4-for-5 with five RBI in Game 2, followed with a double of his own, his a high fly to left-center that bounced off the warning track and into the jubilant stands. Walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman loaded the bases, prompting a coaching visit to the mound.

"First batter he left a ball up to Furcal to get the base hit and Jay's ball that fell in there was a decent pitch, fastball in. Pujols hit a great pitch, nice curve ball down in the zone and he drives it to left center, and after that, I thought Yo lost his command," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said of his starter.

A Yadier Molina double-play ball brought in another run, and Freese tacked on another two-bagger off Corey Hart's glove in right for a 4-0 cushion.

The margin was seemingly comfortable as Carpenter was coming off a three-hit shutout of the Philadelphia Phillies in the Game 5 clincher of the NLDS. The Brewers, though, rallied with three straight singles in the second frame, the last a line drive up the middle by Yuniesky Betancourt that knocked in Rickie Weeks.

Gallardo followed two batters later with a sacrifice fly to right, and Kotsay's homer quieted the home crowd a little further.

Carpenter walked a pair in the fifth, but struck out Weeks on a payoff pitch, which ended up being his last as a steady light rain persisted. The right- hander allowed six hits and three walks, throwing just 48 of his 89 pitches for strikes.

"It was a battle all night long. My stuff was okay, but these guys worked me hard," Carpenter said. "Our bullpen did a phenomenal job to finish it out...and that's what's important."

Salas threw a 1-2-3 sixth, Lynn retired pinch-hitter Nyjer Morgan, Corey Hart and Kotsay in the seventh, and La Russa used pitching matchups to silence the heart of Milwaukee's order in the eighth.

Lynn stayed in to face Braun, getting the slugger to ground out weakly to second. Rzepczynski entered and struck out the always dangerous Prince Fielder, and Motte fanned Weeks before finishing off his third save of the postseason in the ninth.

Game Notes

Freese has 11 RBI in eight games this postseason...Pujols was intentionally walked twice with a runner in scoring position and first base open. Holliday followed both by striking out to end the inning...Carpenter passed Matt Morris for most starts in Cardinals postseason history with 12 and tied Bob Gibson's franchise mark with seven playoff wins...Gallardo came in just 1-7 lifetime versus the Cards with a 5.66 ERA in 11 starts...The Brewers have lost each of their last eight postseason games on the road...The home team has won Game 3 of the NLCS each of the past eight years..This is the first postseason series in history in which a first-year manager -- Roenicke -- has competed against a counterpart -- La Russa -- who has managed in the majors for more than 25 seasons.