Cardinals Tie Nationals at One Game Apiece in NLDS Behind Carlos Beltran’s Two Home Runs

Cardinals Tie Nationals at One Game Apiece in NLDS Behind Carlos Beltran's Two Home RunsST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran
hit the last two of the Cardinals' four homers and St. Louis chased an
ineffective Jordan Zimmermann early in a 12-4 rout of the Washington
Nationals on Monday that tied their NL division series at one game
apiece.

Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso
also went deep to help the defending World Series champions build a big
lead that compensated for a two-inning start from an ailing Jaime
Garcia
. Craig hit his fifth career postseason homer and scored three
times.

Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche
hit consecutive homers in the fifth for the Nationals, who head home for
the remainder of the best-of-five series. But the NL East champions are
without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg, shut down for the rest of the
season early last month to protect his surgically repaired arm.

Game 3 is Wednesday afternoon at
Nationals Park. Edwin Jackson starts for Washington against longtime
Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who made only three starts during the
regular season because of injury.

"Today, for us, was a must-win game," Beltran said.

The Cardinals seem to live for
those. They lost the division series and NL championship series openers
last fall, then finished strong in the World Series after spotting Texas
a 3-2 lead.

So, they're on familiar ground.

There were no lineup changes in
Game 2 of the division series, just a lot more clutch hitting from
players accustomed to October pressure.

Beltran homered twice in the
postseason for the third time in his career, connecting in the sixth off
Mike Gonzalez and eighth off Sean Burnett. Jon Jay had two hits and
three RBIs, plus an outstanding catch at the center-field wall to
deprive Danny Espinosa of extra bases in the sixth.

St. Louis was 0 for 8 with
runners in scoring position in Game 1 and totaled just three hits. The
Cardinals had five hits in a four-run second Monday, Descalso hit his
first postseason homer in the fourth a day after getting robbed by
Jayson Werth's leaping catch at the right-field wall, and Beltran's
drive off Gonzalez in the sixth banged off the facade in the third deck
in left, estimated at 444 feet.

Shadows didn't seem to be as big
of an issue in Game 2, which started 1 1/2 hours later than the opener,
creeping past the pitcher's mound around the third inning. Both teams
had issues with playing conditions after the opener.

Late last season, after
complaints from Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman, the Cardinals said
they'd try not to schedule late afternoon games that might be affected.

Zimmermann lasted a season-low
three innings while pitching on eight days' rest. His next-shortest
outing also was against the Cardinals, when he gave up a four-run,
first-inning cushion and was chased after yielding eight runs in 3 2/3
innings in a 10-9 loss at home.

The numbers weren't favorable
for the 25-year-old right-hander prior to first pitch, given he's 0-2
with a 9.45 ERA in five career regular-season starts against the
Cardinals. They were 3 for 5 with runners in scoring position against a
pitcher who led the majors by holding opponents to a .160 average.

Nationals batters made contact
on just four of Garcia's 24 pitches in the first, threatening with a
pair of walks. Garcia went to a full count on five of his first eight
hitters, and threw 51 pitches in two innings while surrendering
Zimmermann's RBI single in the second.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny
said Garcia was pulled because his arm didn't feel right. Garcia missed
time this season with a shoulder problem.

The Cardinals had 18-game winner
Lance Lynn warming up in the second and the right-hander stood on the
bullpen mound during St. Louis' four-run answer in the bottom half.
Pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker stood on the top dugout step while Pete
Kozma
struck out for the first out in the second and it was no decoy,
with Schumaker contributing a run-scoring groundout to the rally.

St. Louis opened the second with
four straight hits, singles by Craig and Yadier Molina that set the
table followed by an RBI double from David Freese and a run-scoring
single from Descalso.

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