The St. Louis Cardinals are two wins away from going back to the World Series after Saturday's 1-0 shutout of the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium.
A sacrifice fly by Jon Jay in the fifth inning turned out to be the game winner, as the Cardinals got only two hits on the afternoon.
The pitching was the real story, with rookie Michael Wacha (1-0) having another outstanding outing, allowing just five hits in six and two thirds innings and striking out eight.
Wacha brought the crowd of 46,872 to a roar by working out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the sixth inning.
Wacha opened the inning by allowing a hit by the pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, then an infield hit by Carl Crawford. A throwing error by second baseman Matt Carpenter allowed Kershaw to advance to third.
But none of the drama seemed to phase the rookie, who got Mark Ellis to pop out, then after walking Adrian Gonzalez intentionally, struck out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe to end the inning.
Wacha says he relied on his catcher to get out of that jam. "I was just trying to get locked in with Yadier back there. We took some time in between batters, a lot of mound visits, just to make sure we were on the same page. I was pretty pumped up after I got a couple strikeouts there to end the inning and keep our team in the lead."
Kershaw (0-1) was equally impressive, allowing one run on two hits in six innings, and striking out five before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the seventh.
Four Cardinals relievers shut down the Dodgers, including Kevin Siegrist, Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez, and Trevor Rosenthal.
The crowd was electric with every pitch in the top of the ninth when Rosenthal struck out Puig, Uribe, and pinch hitter Andre Ethier.
Rosenthal says he was locked in, but knew the crowd was there. "It was a lot of energy in the stadium at that time," Rosenthal said. "I just think that game was electric from start to finish. How close of a game it was being a one-run game, and how great the pitching was on both sides and just trying to come in there and keep my composure. It was definitely exciting.:
Wacha says he knew he had to be on his game as his offense went up against the league's toughest hurler. "You don't really expect even the best offenses to score a lot of runs off him," Wacha said. "So I tried not to pay too much attention to who was going for them. Just go out there and try to throw up zeros. The defense was playing great behind me. We were able to scratch across a run against a tough pitcher in Kershaw. It ended up being enough for us."
Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny says even though his team appears to be in the driver's seat, the Redbirds are trying not to get too far ahead of themselves. "We don't also deny what's happened here the last two days," Matheny said. "Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that.When you go into the game today the way their pitcher was throwing and we get two hits, we end up leaving one guy on base, and that was the first guy of the game. Those situations typically come back and bite you."
The series heads to Los Angeles for Game 3 Monday night at 7:07.
The St. Louis Cardinals ace, Adam Wainwright, takes the mound against Dodgers lefthander Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Saturday's game marked just the third 1-0 game in Cards postseason history. The others were Game 5 of the NLDS in 2011 at Philadelphia (Chris Carpenter's 1-0 shutout win), and Game 6 of the 1987 NLCS vs. San Francisco.
Neither team hit a home run through the first two games of the series. That's the first time in NLCS history it's happened, dating back to 1969.
Michael Wacha became just the second Cardinals pitcher with back-to-back postseason games of eight plus strikeouts and one run or fewer allowed, joining Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, who did it in Games 1 and 4 of the 1968 World Series.