Cardinals' big bats lead way to World SeriesOct 17, 2011 - 5:10 AM
With a chance to secure a berth in the World Series, St. Louis didn't waste any time.
The Cardinals scored nine runs in the first three innings Sunday to beat Milwaukee, 12-6, in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series and win their first pennant in five years.
Freese finished with three hits and was named Most Valuable Player of the series. He totaled 12 hits during the NLCS, including three homers.
His opening-inning shot opened the floodgates for St. Louis, which chased Brewers starter Shaun Marcum after one inning and forced Marcum's replacement, Chris Narveson, out of the game after 1 2/3 frames.
The Cardinals sneaked into the playoffs as the wild card but are now headed to contend for the 11th World Series title in team history. They will face the AL-champion Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the Fall Classic on Wednesday.
"This [has been] improbable, incredible, overwhelming," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.
St. Louis has advanced this far against some stiff competition. The Cardinals won their NLDS matchup against the Phillies, who won a team-record 102 games during the regular season and boasted a rotation of aces. Sunday, they eliminated a Brewers team that also set a team record for wins (96) during the regular season.
Moreover, the Brewers held the best home record during the regular season (57-24), but St. Louis earned the series victory with two wins in Milwaukee and with early bursts of offense.
"We believe. That's what you have to do in this game. We have a group of guys with talent, desire and a ton of heart," Freese said. "It's an unbelievable feeling to be part of this organization with this group of guys. It means a lot."
The Cardinals scored first in every game during the NLCS, and did so Sunday after Jon Jay hit a one-out single in the first inning. Pujols walked before Lance Berkman sent an RBI single to center.
Pujols was tagged out at home during the next plate appearance, but there were two runners still on base after the play, and Freese took advantage. Marcum (0-3) hung a first-pitch changeup over the plate, and Freese slugged it over the left field wall.
"You can't get away with mistakes to them, and we made way too many mistakes," said Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.
Corey Hart opened the bottom half with a homer to center off Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson, and after Furcal hit a two-out solo blast, the Brewers got back in the game.
Rickie Weeks began the second inning by drilling a fastball, which Jackson threw down the center of the zone, over the left field wall. Jerry Hairston Jr. followed with a single, and two batters later, Jonathan Lucroy hammered a low-and-inside fastball to left-center field.
Suddenly, Milwaukee was within 5-4.
But the Cardinals' offense got all those runs back, and more, in the third. Pujols lined a high pitch over the left field wall to lead off, and St. Louis had the bases loaded after a single by Holliday, a double by Freese and an intentional walk to Yadier Molina.
After Nick Punto plated a run with a sacrifice fly, Allen Craig pinch-hit for Jackson. Facing new pitcher LaTroy Hawkins, Craig singled to center to bring in two more runs for a 9-4 advantage.
The Brewers got back-to-back doubles by Hairston and Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth and an RBI groundout from Ryan Braun in the fifth, but never caught up.
They never got the chance to, partly because St. Louis' offense tacked on a few extra runs. A series of errors in the top of the fifth allowed the Cardinals to plate two more runs, and Pujols singled in a run in the eighth.
Additionally, St. Louis' pitching staff overcame Jackson's short start. Fernando Salas pitched two innings and Marc Rzepczynski (1-0) threw 2 1/3, and both pitchers gave up a run. Octavio Dotel, Lance Lynn and Jason Motte shut down Milwaukee over the final two-plus innings.
The Brewers had high aspirations entering these playoffs, but now enter an offseason that will be dominated by the question of whether Prince Fielder will re-sign with the team.
Fielder avoided arbitration last offseason by signing a one-year contract, but will be a free agent this winter and could choose to sign a lucrative contract with another franchise.
That was already on the minds of Brewers fans in the eighth inning, when they gave him an ovation when Fielder came to the plate for, perhaps, his final plate appearance with the club. He grounded out to second.
"It was awesome," Fielder said of the ovation, "just because playing here was awesome. I'm just glad I was able to have the amount of fun I had. It was cool."
Lynn finished the inning and Motte worked a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out pinch- hitter Mark Kotsay for the final out. Molina raised his arms after catching the third strike, kicking off the Cardinals' victory celebration.
St. Louis won the 18th pennant in team history...Hairston finished with two hits to lead the Brewers, who haven't reached the World Series since 1982, when they lost to the Cardinals in seven games.
- ST. LOUIS: 12
Oct 16 11:51 PM
- Albert Pujols singled to left scoring Daniel Descalso with two out. Runner on first and Lance Berkman due up.
Cardinals 12, Brewers 6 Top 8, 2 OutsOct 16 11:16 PM
- Ryan Braun grounded out to first scoring Carlos Gomez with one out. None on and Prince Fielder due up.
Cardinals 11, Brewers 6 Bot 5, 1 OutOct 16 10:24 PM
- Pinch-Hitter Adron Chambers sacrifice fly to left scored David Freese with two out. Runner on second and Rafael Furcal due up.
Cardinals 11, Brewers 5 Top 5, 2 OutsOct 16 10:14 PM
- Yadier Molina reached first on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s fielding error scoring Matt Holliday with none out. On the play, David Freese advances to third on Jerry Hairston Jr.'s throwing error. Yadier Molina advances to second. Runners on second and third with none out and Nick Punto due up.
Cardinals 10, Brewers 5 Top 5, 0 OutsOct 16 10:11 PM
- Yuniesky Betancourt doubled to left scoring Jerry Hairston Jr. with one out. Runner on second and Jonathan Lucroy due up.
Cardinals 9, Brewers 5 Bot 4, 1 OutOct 16 9:49 PM
- Pinch-Hitter Allen Craig singled to center scoring David Freese and Yadier Molina with two out. Runner on first and Rafael Furcal due up.
Cardinals 9, Brewers 4 Top 3, 2 OutsOct 16 9:23 PM
- Nick Punto sacrifice fly to right scored Matt Holliday with two out. On the play, David Freese advances to third. Yadier Molina advances to second. Runners on second and third and Edwin Jackson due up.
Cardinals 7, Brewers 4 Top 3, 2 OutsOct 16 9:19 PM
- Albert Pujols lead-off Home Run (2) to left. Lance Berkman due up.
Cardinals 6, Brewers 4 Top 3, 0 OutsOct 16 9:07 PM
- Jonathan Lucroy one-out, two-run Home Run (1) to center scored Jerry Hairston Jr.. Chris Narveson due up.
Cardinals 5, Brewers 4 Bot 2, 1 OutOct 16 8:56 PM
- Rickie Weeks lead-off Home Run (2) to left. Jerry Hairston Jr. due up.
Cardinals 5, Brewers 2 Bot 2, 0 OutsOct 16 8:46 PM
- Rafael Furcal two-out, solo Home Run (1) to left. Jon Jay due up.
Cardinals 5, Brewers 1 Top 2, 2 OutsOct 16 8:41 PM
- Corey Hart lead-off Home Run (2) to center. Nyjer Morgan due up.
Cardinals 4, Brewers 1 Bot 1, 0 OutsOct 16 8:27 PM
- David Freese two-out, three-run Home Run (4) to left scored Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday. Yadier Molina due up.
Cardinals 4, Brewers 0 Top 1, 2 OutsOct 16 8:20 PM
- Lance Berkman singled to center scoring Jon Jay with one out. On the play, Albert Pujols advances to third. Lance Berkman advances to second on the throw. Runners on second and third and Matt Holliday due up.
Cardinals 1, Brewers 0 Top 1, 1 OutOct 16 8:17 PM
- ST. LOUIS: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Oct 16 8:05 PM
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