Beltran homers twice as Cards rip Nats in Game 2

Carlos Beltran belted two of four home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals as the defending World Series champions evened their National League Division Series with the Washington Nationals with a 12-4 Game 2 rout at Busch Stadium.

Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso also went deep to help the Cardinals rebound from a 3-2 loss in Sunday's opener, in which the Nationals tallied twice in the eighth inning to prevail. Beltran and Jon Jay each knocked in three runs on two hits in the win, with Craig finishing 3-for-5 with two runs scored and Descalso contributing a pair of RBI as part of a 2-for-4 performance.

The Cardinals banged out 13 hits for the game, eight of which went for extra bases.

"We know this offense has the potential to do this," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny. "It was nice to see this, and hopefully it becomes contagious and the guys just keep going."

Lance Lynn (1-0) was credited with the victory after striking out five in three innings in relief of an ailing Jaime Garcia, despite surrendering back- to-back solo homers to Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the fifth.

Garcia was removed after just two innings due to an apparent injury to his shoulder. The left-hander, who spent more than two months on the disabled list with inflammation in the same area earlier in the season, labored through 51 pitches and walked three batters while allowing a run.

Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with two RBI and Mike Morse also collected two hits for the NL East-winning Nationals, with starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann coming through with an RBI single in a losing cause.

Zimmermann (1-1) wasn't as effective on the mound, lasting just three innings while being tagged for five runs on seven hits.

"He didn't really make a lot of adjustments out there," Nationals manager Davey Johnson remarked. "He kind of stayed one way, hard-away. A good fastball-hitting club, you have to use both sides of the plate, and he didn't really use his slider much early on. That's just a little inexperience."

Zimmermann entered the game with a 9.12 earned run average in five previous starts against St. Louis -- his highest against any single opponent -- and the right-hander's struggles continued during a rough second inning in which the Cardinals put up four runs and pounded out five hits.

With the Cardinals down 1-0, Craig began the barrage with an infield single and Yadier Molina followed with a base hit to put two men on for David Freese, who stroked a double off the wall in right center to plate Craig for the tying run. Descalso then hit a sharp grounder through the right side to bring in Molina for a 2-1 advantage.

Freese came home on pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker's ground ball to short to extend the Cardinals' cushion, with Jay capping the uprising with an RBI single that made the score 4-1.

"Against Zimmermann, that's big for us," said Jay of the second-inning outburst. "We know what type of offense we have when we are going out there and grinding and having good at-bats, and we did that today. When we do that, we've been tough on starters and doesn't matter who is pitching out there."

Craig further padded the lead by cranking a Zimmermann fastball just inside the left-field foul pole with two outs in the third, and Descalso made it a 6-1 game by greeting Craig Stammen with a solo shot to lead off St. Louis' half of the fourth.

The Cardinals weren't done yet. Stammen subsequently walked Pete Kozma, who hustled all the way to third on Lynn's ensuing sacrifice bunt before crossing the plate on Jay's RBI grounder that Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa mishandled for an error.

Zimmerman and LaRoche each homered in the fifth to bring Washington within 7-3, but the Nationals would get no closer as St. Louis relievers Joe Kelly, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Trevor Rosenthal yielded just one run over the final four innings.

Beltran's first homer of the day, a towering blast off the upper-deck facade against Mike Gonzalez in the sixth, got the margin back to five runs, though the Nationals countered in their next at-bat when Bryce Harper doubled home Jayson Werth.

St. Louis would put the contest out of reach with a four-run eighth, however, with Beltran following Jay's RBI triple with a long homer into the left-field bleachers to put the Cards up by an 11-4 count and Craig later delivering a run-scoring double.

Garcia averted damage despite issuing a pair of walks in the first, but couldn't escape unscathed during a 27-pitch second.

He gave up a single to Ian Desmond to start the frame and then walked Espinosa before Zimmermann flared a one-out base hit to right that gave Washington a short-lived 1-0 edge.

Game 3 of this best-of-five set will take place Wednesday in Washington, with veteran Chris Carpenter getting the call for St. Louis and ex-Cardinal Edwin Jackson tabbed to start for the Nationals.

Game Notes

St. Louis improved to 9-1 all-time in Game 2's of a Division Series ... The Cardinals tied a club NLDS record for runs scored, initially set in a 12-2 win at Arizona on Oct. 2, 2002 ... Beltran now has 13 lifetime postseason home runs and put together his second career multi-homer game in an NLDS game, having also done so with Houston against Atlanta on Oct. 11, 2004.