Puerto Rican slugger Carlos Beltran drove in two runs and starting pitcher Michael Wacha worked seven solid innings as the St. Louis Cardinals routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 9-0 in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series to book their fourth World Series berth in the last 10 years.
Beltran kicked off the scoring Friday night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, delivering a single off Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the third that scored Matt Carpenter.
The Red Birds kept piling on that inning, getting two more run-scoring singles - from catcher Yadier Molina and outfielder Shane Robinson - to stretch their lead to 4-0.
That was more than enough scoring for Wacha, a rookie who started the 2013 regular season in the minor leagues but has been nearly unhittable in the playoffs.
Wacha also helped the Cardinals with the bat, driving in a run on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the fifth and scoring his team's ninth and final run on a Beltran single that inning.
The rookie outpitched Kershaw, the likely 2013 NL Cy Young Award winner, in Game 2 of the NLCS by a slim margin and then did so again by a wide margin on Friday night, giving up two hits and no runs over seven innings of work.
In three games so far this postseason against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Dodgers, Wacha has given up just seven hits and one earned run.
Kershaw, for his part, was taken out after surrendering three straight hits without recording an out in the bottom of the fifth, in what was a bitter end to an otherwise stellar season.
For the game, Kershaw gave up seven earned runs and 10 hits.
The Cardinals will square off in the World Series against either the Boston Red Sox or Detroit Tigers, with the American League champion to host Game 1 on Wednesday night.
St. Louis lost to Boston in the 2004 World Series in four straight games, but returned to the Fall Classic two years later and defeated Detroit four games to one.
The Cardinals, a storied franchise with 11 World Series titles in all, also defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games to win the 2011 championship. EFE