St. Louis Cardinals Are National League Champions, Begin World Series Happy Flight

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers face off in an all-flyover-country National League Championship Series—not to mention a rematch, strangely enough, of the 1982 World Series.

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18 Total Updates since October 9, 2011
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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Score: Albert Pujols Homers, Allen Craig Squibs To 9-4 Lead

An Albert Pujols home run and an Allen Craig pinch-hit squib single returned the St. Louis Cardinals to a tenuous 9-4 lead in their emerging home run derby vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. Ex-closer Fernando Salas came on in relief of Edwin Jackson to put up the game’s first scoreless half-inning afterward, though it only came after Jon Jay made a leaping catch at the wall on a long fly ball from Prince Fielder.

The Brewers responded with a 1-2-3 of their own in the top of the fourth, with a similar disclaimer: It came on a line-drive double play off the bat of Lance Berkman, who looked a little less than fooled.

With 13 runs through three-plus innings neither team is going to be satisfied with a five run lead for a while yet. Tony La Russa’s incredibly high-intensity bullpen usage is likely to see its toughest test yet, with the entire pen available following Saturday’s off-day—but ahead of a possible Game 7 on Monday, which would bring Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo to the mound without a lot of backup in the pen.

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St. Louis Cardinals Score: Brewers Remove Shaun Marcum After Four-Run First

The Milwaukee Brewers exercised the kind of quick hook you only see in elimination games Sunday night in Game 6 of the NLCS, removing Shaun Marcum following a first inning in which the beleaguered starter allowed four runs to the St. Louis Cardinals, culminating in a three-run home run from postseason hero David Freese. Chris Narveson, part of the 2004 trade that sent Larry Walker to the Cardinals, came into the game and struck out two second-inning batters before allowing a solo home run to Rafael Furcal, extending the Cardinals' lead to 5-1. 

Of course, the half-inning after Edwin Jackson allowed another leadoff home run to Rickie Weeks, and the run-scoring continued. With a day off and home runs looking to be at something less than a premium it's good news for both teams that the heavily used bullpens had a full travel day to rest their weary arms. Only Game 7 starters Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo are likely to be off-limits in a game that could decide the National League pennant winners. 

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Score: David Freese Homers In Four-Run First

The St. Louis Cardinals scored first vs. the Brewers in Game 6 of the NLCS, with Lance Berkman driving in Jon Jay on a one-out single, but it was David Freese's three-run home run—a rare pull-shot to left field—that put the Milwaukee Brewers down by a score of 4-0 to start this must-win return to Miller Park. Shaun Marcum continued to struggle with what appeared to be diminished stuff, a tag that's dogged him since September. The Cardinals actually might have been shorted a run on the inning—Albert Pujols was called out on an impossibly close play at home plate, where instant replays appeared to show him safe. 

Edwin Jackson takes the mound for the Cardinals in the bottom of the inning, looking to be the first St. Louis starter all series to reach the sixth inning. If that doesn't happen—well, the Cardinals' incredible expanding bullpen has been rested for a full day. Corey Hart homered in the first inning to make it 4-1, so anything could yet happen. 

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Final: Happy Flight Returns, St. Louis Wins 7-1

The St. Louis Cardinals got more brilliant work out of their bullpen and the Milwaukee Brewers made some errors behind another unimpressive Zack Greinke start, giving the Cardinals enough slack to score seven runs on their way to a 7-1 getaway-day victory. It’s another Happy Flight for the Cardinals, who move within one game of their first World Series appearance since 2006.

Saturday’s an off-day; Sunday the Cardinals will send Edwin Jackson out to face Shaun Marcum, who was recently named the Brewers’ Game 6 starter instead of Yovani Gallardo despite his recent struggles. Marcum, who’s entertained some injury concerns late in the season, will be on a short leash.

Of course, so will anybody the Cardinals trot out—once again Tony La Russa pulled the leash early, sending Octavio Dotel in to strike out Ryan Braun after Jaime Garcia allowed two baserunners to reach after 4 2/3 innings. The bullpen continued its outstanding work thereafter, throwing 4 1/3 scoreless and ending things with yet another unhittable appearance from Jason Motte.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Score: Albert Pujols Drives In A Run, Cardinals Lead 5-1

Albert Pujols drove in his seventh run of the NLCS Friday night on a line drive single off Zack Greinke, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a 5-1 lead vs. the Milwaukee Brewers and driving Greinke, who managed just two swinging strikes on 98 pitches, out of the game. Former Cardinals farmhand Chris Narveson escaped the threat soon after, retiring Lance Berkman on his first pitch, but the Cardinals responded with a scoreless inning from Lance Lynn (no relation) soon after.

Pujols is 1-3 on the night with the single and a walk. He’s hitting .500 on the series, with nine hits, four doubles, and a home run to go with those seven RBI. His career high in a postseason series is nine, when he hit .500/.563/1.000 in seven games against the Houston Astros in the 2004 NLCS. In his career he’s hitting .338/.439/.598 in 66 postseason games, with 43 RBI.

The Cardinals did the bulk of their damage in the second inning, when Yadier Molina and Jaime Garcia keyed a rally right along with some less-than-impressive defense.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers: Jaime Garcia Out Before Five, Cardinals Still Lead 4-1

The St. Louis Cardinals continue to manage their starting pitchers as aggressively as anyone ever has, but through six innings it’s worked out—Jaime Garcia’s out of the game after four and change (and one earned run), but the Cardinals lead the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 4-1.

Garcia was excellent, for the most part, striking out five batters and walking none, but when Jonathan Lucroy, Corey Hart, and Jerry Hairston reached base Tony La Russa pulled Garcia at just 68 pitches, bringing in right-handed specialist Octavio Dotel to strike out Ryan Braun and end the threat. Dotel retired Prince Fielder to start the sixth inning and retired the side in order to get the Cardinals through six.

Someday a Cardinals starter will pitch more than six innings, and it will be a beautiful moment. Hopefully it isn’t in 2012. Hopefully it isn’t Jeff Suppan. But tonight the Cardinals’ bullpen will sustain another game’s worth of heavy use—they’ll definitely be able to use the off-day tomorrow.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers: Jaime Garcia, Zack Greinke Get Rematch Game 5

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers are tied at two games apiece following Milwaukee's relatively low-scoring 4-2 win Thursday night, and with the even series comes Friday night's Game 1 rematch: The Cardinals send 24-year-old Jaime Garcia back out after an unimpressive first start, while Zack Greinke—still undefeated but not exactly bulletproof in the postseason—will get the ball for the Brewers. The winner goes back to Miller Park up three games to two. The loser, for good or ill, gets to hear about the Brewers' great home winning percentage all through their off day. 

Back in Milwaukee the Cardinals are scheduled to throw Edwin Jackson and Chris Carpenter back out there for Game 6 and (if necessary) 7, but the Brewers haven't yet shown their starting pitcher hand. Of course, this week's NLCS has come down primarily to the work of each bullpen, so who know how relevant those identities will end up being...

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 CDT at Busch Stadium and on TBS. 

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Results: Milwaukee Scores Early, Tops St. Louis 4-2

It was a near repeat of Wednesday night’s action, with the roles reversed—Thursday the Milwaukee Brewers scored on a shaky St. Louis Cardinals starter and held on, thanks to an excellent bullpen, for a series-tying 4-2 victory in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Cardinals couldn’t touch Randy Wolf, and twin closers Francisco Rodriguez and John Axford worked more or less as advertised in the eighth and ninth innings. Matt Holliday and Allen Craig hit solo home runs for the Cardinals, who couldn’t do more damage thanks to an 0-5 night from Rafael Furcal. Kyle Lohse takes the loss after allowing three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings.

The Brewers and Cardinals will meet Friday night for the final game of the series at Busch Stadium, when Jaime Garcia and Zack Greinke play a Game 1 rematch. As expected, for all our hopes, the Cardinals will have to win at least one more game at Miller Park, home of baseball’s latest absurd home-field advantage.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers: Cardinals Score Early, Hold On For 4-3 Win

Chris Carpenter was shaky, but Yovani Gallardo was just a little shakier—and the best pitcher's duel of the 2011 NLCS turned out to be a minor dud as the St. Louis Cardinals skated past the Milwaukee Brewers by a score of 4-3. Albert Pujols went 2-2 with his seventh double of the postseason and David Freese went 3-4 with an RBI as the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead after their first home game of the series.

Carpenter couldn't follow up his Game 5 NLDS shutout with more of the same, struggling with command and allowing a home run to little-used Mark Kotsay, but the Cardinals' revamped bullpen continued to be outstanding, throwing four perfect innings to bridge the gap from Carpenter to Jason Motte, who earned his first NLCS save—and his three strikeouts—with an even more explosive fastball than usual.

The Brewers' bullpen was just as impressive—including two strikeouts from former Cardinals farmhand Chris Narveson—but the early scoring had the Cardinals by a run, and the ninth inning looked exactly the same. The Cardinals and Brewers will meet again Thursday night at 7:05 CDT when Randy Wolf meets Kyle Lohse. Jaime Garcia and Zack Grienke will close the Busch Stadium series Friday night.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers: Chris Carpenter, Yovani Gallardo Square Off For Game 3 In St. Louis

The St. Louis Cardinals and the Milwaukee Brewers will square off Wednesday night in the first of a three-game set at Busch Stadium, with aces Chris Carpenter and Yovani Gallardo getting the ball with the slate tied after the Cardinals won an NLCS blowout in Game 2 at Miller Park.

Yovani Gallardo is the homegrown ace of the Brewers' largely imported staff, setting career highs with 17 wins, 207 strikeouts, and a 3.52 ERA—and, unfortunately for the Brewers, setting another career high with 27 home runs allowed to offset his impressively low walk rate. Gallardo was excellent in two starts in the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks, including a Game 5 in which he went seven innings and got a no-decision in the team's eventual 10-inning win. 

The Cardinals trot out Chris Carpenter for the first time since he shut out the Philadelphia Phillies and outdueled Roy Halladay in Game 5. Carpenter struggled on short rest but was outstanding for the Cardinals down the stretch, going 10-2 with a 2.73 ERA. Game time is 7:05 PM CDT on TBS. 

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers: Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum Take Game 2 Assignment Monday

The St. Louis Cardinals will attempt to even the NLCS score against the Milwaukee Brewers Monday night when Edwin Jackson takes the mound against fellow Toronto trade target Shaun Marcum. Jackson began his Cardinals career twice snakebitten by the Brewers before he—and the rest of the squad—turned the ship around; Marcum struggled intermittently in the season’s final month before the Diamondbacks tagged him with seven runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched in his first-ever postseason start.

For the Cardinals, the game represents another attempt to get dinged-up slugger Matt Holliday into team-carrying mode. After nearly being replaced in the NLDS Holliday was 2-9 and struggled to make hard contact against Philadelphia; in the opener against Milwaukee Sunday afternoon he was 2-4 but still looked less than locked in. After a positive practice session he’s been moved into the cleanup spot, flanked by Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman.

The rest of the Cardinals’ starting lineup is unsurprising, save, perhaps, for the appearance of Nick Punto, batting eighth and slotted in at second base. Game 2 of the 2011 NLCS starts at 7:05 PM CDT at Miller Park and on TBS.

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Milwaukee Brewers Score Six In Fifth, Chase Garcia, Lead Cardinals 8-5

Jaime Garcia’s tenuous grip on the St. Louis Cardinals’ newfound lead vs. the Milwaukee Brewers lasted all of one inning—the Milwaukee Brewers scored six in bottom of the fifth inning to chase Garcia, behind a double from Ryan Braun and a long home run from Prince Fielder. Yuniesky Betancourt homered off reliever Octavio Dotel to put the Brewers up 8-5 and add insult to injury.

Garcia, who’s been trailed all year by a narrative about his inability to pitch well on the road, leaves the game with six earned runs in four innings pitched, a major letdown from his hard-luck loss in the NLDS. The Cardinals went to Dotel and then rookie Lance Lynn to try to hold the Brewers down, while the Brewers left Zack Greinke in to pitch a scoreless sixth inning after a rough start of his own.

The Cardinals go into the top of the seventh with the top of their order up—Rafael Furcal, Jon Jay, and Albert Pujols. Each has reached base once, and Furcal and Jay have scored two of the Cardinals’ five runs.

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Cardinals Vs. Brewers Score: David Freese Homers To Put St. Louis On Top

David Freese's opposite-field home run extravaganza continued Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee, when what looked at first to be a lazy fly ball carried out of the park in right-center, putting the St. Louis Cardinals on top vs. the Brewers by a score of 4-2. The homer is Freese's second of the postseason, and counts for his sixth, seventh, and eighth RBI in six postseason games. Zack Greinke's postseason woes continue; in his NLDS appearance he allowed four runs in five innings on three home runs, despite striking out seven and walking zero.

Freese's postseason power comes after a regular-season career that's been, given his minor league pedigree, strangely devoid of it; after carrying a career slugging percentage of .531 through the minor leagues, and hitting 36 home runs in 191 AAA games, Freese had hit just 15 home runs in 184 career Major League games. 

The Cardinals got on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning on a Matt Holliday base hit to score Jon Jay; the Brewers answered in the bottom of the inning when Ryan Braun drove Jerry Hairston in on a home run of his own. 

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