ST. LOUIS (AP) — With the red-clad crowd roaring more loudly with every pitch, Matt Carpenter became more determined — to get a hit and help lead the St. Louis Cardinals back to the World Series.
On Clayton Kershaw's 11th offering, Carpenter lined a doubled to right field. It turned out to be the start of something really big.
Carlos Beltran followed with another key hit in a four-run third inning that stunned the Dodgers ace, Michael Wacha was again magnificent on the mound and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up Los Angeles 9-0 in Game 6 of the NL championship series Friday night.
"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long, and thank God we're here."
The 22-year-old Wacha was selected MVP of the NLCS after throwing 13 2-3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice in the series. The first rookie to win the award since Livan Hernandez in 1997 for the Marlins pitched seven innings of two-hit ball Friday.
"We want to see it a few more times, a couple at least," manager Mike Matheny said.
With four runs in the third and five more in the fifth, the Cardinals quickly removed all the tension surrounding a team that squandered a 3-1 series lead in the NLCS last fall against San Francisco.
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday at the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals won their 19th NL pennant and will be trying for their third title since 2006, last winning in 2011.
The 36-year-old Beltran had three hits, drove in two runs and made a spectacular catch in right field as he advanced to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.