The St. Louis Cardinals hope to punch their ticket to the National League Championship Series on Thursday when they play Game 4 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park.
St. Louis, of course, started its run to an 11th World Series title a year ago by knocking off the NL's top team in the Philadelphia Phillies. The Cardinals can now do the same to the Nationals, who won a major league best 98 games this past season.
On Wednesday, Chris Carpenter continued his postseason dominance and Pete Kozma hit a three-run homer as St. Louis spoiled the first playoff game in the nation's capital in 79 years with an 8-0 win.
The game marked the first playoff game in Washington, D.C., since the Washington Senators lost to the New York Giants at Griffith Stadium on Oct. 7, 1933.
Carpenter (1-0) scattered seven hits and two walks over 5 2/3-scoreless innings. He improved his postseason record to 10-2 in 16 career starts.
Matt Holliday added two RBI, while Allen Craig, Yadier Molina and Daniel Descalso each knocked in a run for the Cardinals, who hold a 2-1 edge in the best-of-five series.
"We still have to win one more and that will be very difficult. They have a very good team and we're playing in their park," Holliday said. "While this is a good win, we still have some work to do."
Edwin Jackson (0-1) was touched for four runs on eight hits and a walk through five full frames to take the loss for Washington, which went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
"He just made bad pitches," Washington manager Davey Johnson said of Jackson. "Talked to (catcher Kurt) Suzuki, he wasn't hitting his spots."
Getting the call for the Cardinals on Thursday will be righty Kyle Lohse, who was terrific in beating the Atlanta Braves in Friday's one-game wild card game. Lohse surrendered two runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings of that one
Lohse, though, is 1-4 with a 5.12 ERA in his postseason career.
You know, I came through the Atlanta game pretty successfully, and plan on being able to do the same thing from here on out," Lohse said. "I've learned how to handle that adrenaline, all of the other stuff, the ability to block it out. Just go out there and do the things that I know how to do; make pitches and not really care about the situation. Just go out there and have fun."
The 34-year-old right-hander was 16-3 this past season with a 2.86 ERA.
Washington, meanwhile, will turn to lefty Ross Detwiler, who was 10-8 this year with a 3.40 ERA. Detwiler, though, lost his final two starts, including a Sept.30 affair against St. Louis that saw him allow seven runs (3 earned) with five walks in just 2 1/3 innings.
"I try not to remember that one," Detwiler said. "My last couple starts are (examples of) what not to do."
Detwiler, who hasn't pitched since that awful showing in St. Louis, is 8-2 at home this season with a 2.59 ERA.
"Det's capable of pitching a good game tomorrow," Johnson said . "That's been our strength all year. These young guys have pitched great all year. We need a couple more good pitched games this series."
St. Louis took two of three from the Nationals over the final weekend of the regular season, but Washington won the season series, 4-3. Three of those wins for Washington were at home.