St. Louis, MO (SportsNetwork.com) - The magic for rookie Michael Wacha and the Cardinals will continue into the Fall Classic.
The season ended with a thud for Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Wacha allowed two hits over seven shutout innings and the Cardinals used a bevy of seeing-eye hits to finish off the Dodgers, 9-0, in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
St. Louis is off to the World Series for the second time in three years, thanks in part to a 22-year-old right-hander who has been dominant in the playoffs. Wacha (3-0), who struck out five, lowered his ERA to 0.43 in the postseason. That includes throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings of a 1-0, Game 2 win over Kershaw.
"Any time you're facing Clayton Kershaw, you're probably going to have to match zeros against him," Wacha said. "Our guys just battled out there today. It was so much fun to watch in the dugout there."
Carlos Beltran and Shane Robinson each knocked in two runs. Wacha, who was honored as MVP of the NLCS, also got credit for an RBI during a five- run fifth inning, when the Cardinals built their lead to nine runs.
"Just being with this group of guys, it makes my job easy," Wacha said. "You just can't let the moment get too big for you."
Kershaw (1-2) surrendered 10 hits and seven runs over four-plus frames for the NL West champions, who haven't been to the World Series since winning the title in 1988.
Making their fourth trip to the World Series in 10 years, the Cardinals now await the winner of the ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. Boston leads that set 3-2 and can advance to the Fall Classic with a win at Fenway Park Saturday night.
Kershaw entered Game 6 having allowed only one run over his previous five starts. The 2011 Cy Young Award winner had a difficult time stopping the avalanche of hits in the third inning.
The Cardinals, who blew a 3-1 lead to San Francisco in the 2012 NLCS, scored four times in the third when Kershaw threw 48 pitches.
After losing, 6-4, Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium and accumulating only 12 runs over the first five contests, the Cardinals made a move to bolster their offense.
The switch to start Robinson over Jon Jay paid off for manager Mike Matheny. Jay went 4-for-18 in the NLCS. Robinson, who made his first start since Sept. 29, the final day of the regular season, had a two-run single in the third.
Pete Kozma struck out swinging on a high pitch from Kershaw to leave a runner at third in the second inning. The hit parade, though, started a frame later. Matt Carpenter doubled to right field with one out to cap an 11-pitch at-bat, and Beltran's low line single barely over the glove of a diving Mark Ellis at second base plated the first run.
"I felt like that was just a tremendous at-bat," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Carpenter's trip to the plate. "Just kept fouling off pitches, both sides of the field fouling balls back, and then that ended up being a double. From there, it seemed like the flood gates opened."
Yadier Molina's two-out single to center made it 2-0. David Freese singled and Matt Adams walked to set the stage for Robinson, whose grounder bounded into right field for a 4-0 margin. Yasiel Puig air-mailed the throw home to the backstop.
Puig committed a second error that started the big fifth. Molina's one-bounce liner to right caromed off Puig's glove. Freese then singled to put runners at the corners before Adams hit a slicing double to the left-field corner.
Ronald Belisario entered from the bullpen, but with one out he intentionally walked Kozma to fill the bases. Wacha then hit a bouncer to Ellis, who had a hard time getting the ball out of his glove. Adams slid into home to beat the late throw for a 6-0 lead.
J.P. Howell also couldn't stop the offensive deluge. Carpenter lifted a sacrifice fly to left, and Kozma scored on a wild pitch before Beltran's grounder into left made it 9-0.
After giving up a double to A.J. Ellis to start the sixth, Wacha retired the final six batters he faced. Carlos Martinez fanned two in a perfect eighth frame and Trevor Rosenthal threw a 1-2-3 ninth.
Even as the rain picked up, the wet conditions did not stop the Cardinals from celebrating after Mark Ellis struck out to end the contest.
A big part of the triumph was the Cardinals watching Beltran secure his first trip to the World Series at the age of 36.
"During the regular season, we went through ups and downs and we stood together. We did it as a team, actually. It was fun just being able to watch the veteran guys try to help the younger guys," Beltran said.
The Cardinals were 6-for-14 with men in scoring position. The Cardinals' 19 trips to the World Series ties San Francisco for the most by an NL franchise ... Kershaw allowed four earned runs in just three of his 33 starts during the regular season. He allowed eight earned runs at Busch Stadium on July 24, 2012 ... The Cardinals, who are after their 12th World Series title, beat Texas for the 2011 championship and Detroit in 2006. They lost to the Red Sox in 2004 ... Shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who started for the Dodgers despite a fractured rib, went 0-for-3.