for this game

Wong's homer gives Cardinals 2-1 series lead

Oct 7, 2014 - 6:06 AM St. Louis, MO ( - Kolten Wong knew his deciding home run in Game 3 was gone when it left his bat.

The rookie second baseman smacked a no-doubt, two-run blast in the seventh inning to give the St. Louis Cardinals a 3-1 victory and a National League Division Series lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday.

The series and the scoreboard were even at 1-1 when heavy rains began to wet the field in the seventh. The cover was removed from the tarp, but play never stopped as the Dodgers dipped into their bullpen.

Yadier Molina greeted reliever Scott Elbert (0-1) with a leadoff double down the left-field line and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt.

The first pitch of the next at-bat proved to be the difference, as Wong annihilated Elbert's slider and flipped his bat knowing it had the distance. The ball landed in a celebrating St. Louis bullpen, which pitched the final two innings behind a lights-out John Lackey.

"To finally contribute to this team and do something special is exciting for me," Wong said. "I let a lot of emotion out. It was an awesome feeling. I'm glad I was able to give us the lead."

Lackey (1-0), the only starting pitcher in MLB history to win two World Series clinchers with two different teams, struck out eight over seven innings and allowed just one run on five hits.

Matt Carpenter hit his third home run of the series for St. Louis, which can advance to the NL Championship Series with Shelby Miller on the mound Tuesday.

Before the loss, the Dodgers announced they are countering Miller with Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest. The presumptive NL Cy Young Award winner was tagged for eight runs in a 10-9 defeat in Game 1.

"Any time we put Clayton Kershaw on the mound we feel pretty good," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "This club has bounced back any time there's been trouble"

J.P. Howell worked out of such trouble with a dazzling play between his legs to start a 1-2-3 double play in the eighth.

The Dodgers made things interesting by putting the tying run on base with a pair of one-out singles in the ninth, but Trevor Rosenthal retired Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis on flyouts to right to close out the save and give St. Louis an upper hand in the series.

Lackey, acquired in a midseason trade with Boston, put the leadoff hitter on base in each of the first two innings and came away unscathed both times. Dee Gordon was left stranded on third when Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp both flew out, and Hanley Ramirez's leadoff single went for naught in the second frame.

Hyun-Jin Ryu wiggled out of his own jam after giving up consecutive singles to start the second, but the left-hander served up a fastball in Carpenter's wheelhouse leading off the next frame.

Carpenter turned on the mistake pitch and crushed it into the seats in right- center with a similar stroke he uncorked on his game-tying home run in Game 2.

The Dodgers, who answered that eighth-inning blast immediately on Kemp's solo shot, took a few innings to summon a response.

Yasiel Puig, mired in a personal slump of seven straight strikeouts, led off the sixth with a opposite-field drive that stayed fair and bounced around in the corner. Puig raced around for a stand-up triple, and stayed there as Gonzalez flew out to short left and Kemp went down swinging.

Ramirez, though, plated the tying run with a sharp line drive that rolled to the right-field wall, serving as LA's only hit in 11 chances with a runner in scoring position.

The home run by Carpenter was the only mistake made by Ryu, who allowed five hits over six innings and showed no ill effects of back and shoulder injuries that limited him to five starts over the past two months.

Game Notes

The announced attendance of 47,574 was the largest ever at the current Busch Stadium ... Puig avoided joining David Justice and Jerry Reuss as the only players to record eight straight strikeouts in one postseason ... Carpenter joined Albert Pujols as the only Cardinal to homer in three straight playoff games. With two more hits, he improved to 6-for-12 with three homers, three doubles and seven RBI in the series ... Lackey improved to 7-5 in 20 career postseason games (17 starts) ... Ramirez had three of LA's seven hits ... The Cardinals ousted the Dodgers in last year's NLCS.