WASHINGTON -- Pete Kozma hit an early three-run homer, and Chris Carpenter pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings to put the St. Louis Cardinals one win away from the of the NL Championship Series with an 8-0 win. St. Louis took Game 3 of the best-of-five Division Series Wednesday afternoon before 45,017, the largest crowd in Nationals Park history. The Cardinals can clinch another berth in the NLCS with a win in Game 4 Thursday. As they did in Game 2, the Cards got their bats rolling in a big way. They jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two innings, and took the boisterous home crowd out of the game. This was the first time the District had hosted a playoff game since 1933. Edwin Jackson, a Cardinal last season, retired the first two batters, before Matt Holliday singled and scored on Allen Craig's double down the left field line, giving St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Kozma broke the game open in the second. After a double by David Freese and a Daniel Descalso single, Kozma launched his first postseason home run, a three-run shot off Jackson to give the Cardinals a 4-0 lead. The Cardinals have scored nine total runs in the second inning in the first three games of the series. St. Louis added another run in the sixth against right-hander Craig Stammen thanks to a Descalso sacrifice fly. That made the score 5-0. Holliday's two-run single in the eighth completed the scoring. The support was more than enough for Carpenter (1-0), who induced a dozen fly ball outs to slow the Nationals. Ian Desmond went 3-for-4, including a double, and Ryan Zimmerman had two hits, but the Nationals left 11 men on base and wasted a number of scoring chances. Washington has left 30 men on base in the first three games of the series. The Nats' best chance against Carpenter came with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Michael Morse flew out to right field and the Nationals stranded three more runners. Jackson lasted five innings, but the four runs and six hits allowed in the first two frames cost him the game. Game 4 Thursday features Cardinals' Kyle Lohse against Nationals' Ross Detwiler. Notes. Nationals left-hander Ross Detwiler is excited about starting Game 4 Thursday. "My last couple of starts (it has been) what not to do. Watching all the games I have seen you get hurt when the ball is up in the zone when you are behind in hitter's counts. You try to stay out of those as much as you can." ... Manager Davey Johnson expects second baseman Danny Espinosa to be able to rebound from a slow start. "It's just that inexperience and being overly aggressive. He needs to be more patient. I think you will see a different hitter here," Johnson said. ... Cardinals Game 4 starter Kyle Lohse said it is important to "learn how to control the counts and control my emotions and go out there and treat it like any other game. That is one of the toughest things to do is to mentally block out everything else. Not worry about anything other than making the pitches I need to do to be successful and those are things you learn over time through experience." ... Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Lance Lynn wasn't available for Game 3 but he would not rule out Lynn for Game 4 or 5. ... Former Nationals manager and Hall of Famer Frank Robinson threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
By Byron Schrecker, The Sports Xchange October 10, 2012 5:10 PM