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Cardinals hit four homers, tie series 1-1

The SportsXchange

ST. LOUIS - Davey Johnson and the Washington Nationals have got an up-close look at the offense of the St. Louis Cardinals in the past 10 days - and he is getting awfully tired of it.

After seeing the Cardinals twice explode for double-digit runs in their series in the final week of the regular season, Johnson had to watch it again, for the third time in a five-game span, in the second game of the National League Division Series on Monday.

"I hope I never see this offense again," Johnson said. "Their numbers speak for themselves. They have got a fine hitting ballclub. Good pitching will slow down good hitting, but you've got to make pitches, and we didn't do that tonight."

The Cardinals hit four home runs, two by Carlos Beltran, and pounded starter Jordan Zimmermann and six Washington relievers for 13 hits en route to a 12-4 win over the Nationals, evening their best-of-five series at one win each.

After being limited to three hits on Sunday in the series opener, the Cardinals were determined to put on a better show in Game 2, bouncing back from the defeat the same way they did in their march to the World Series title last year. Last October, the Cardinals were 6-1 in games following a loss, and they showed that same resiliency on Monday.

Beltran's two homers, a solo shot and a two-run bomb, were the 12th and 13th of his postseason career, and marked the second time he has hit two homers in a Division Series game. He also did it in a game for the Astros in 2004.

Daniel Descalso and Allen Craig also homered for the Cardinals, who had more extra-base hits than singles in the game and recorded 30 total bases. The 12 runs equaled the most the team has scored in a division series game, having also scored 12 in a game against Arizona in 2002.

Craig's homer, one of his three hits, was his fifth career postseason homer.

"It's great to be back in this situation, and I'm grateful," said Beltran, playing in the postseason for the first time since he lost the in the NLCS to the Cardinals while with the Mets in 2006. "At the stage where I am in my career I was thinking to sign with a team that would give me this opportunity, and the Cardinals believed in what I did last year and able to commit to me.

"I just want to go out there and contribute. Who doesn't love to play in these types of games, where you are fighting to win a championship? For me, I'm going to enjoy it because you never know when you are going to get another chance to be in this situation."

Many of the Cardinals were in this same position a year ago, but Beltran was not. He was watching the playoffs on television from his home in Puerto Rico, not knowing that he would sign with the Cardinals until after Albert Pujols signed with the Angels in December.

The experience of last season has only fueled the Cardinals' desire to play well and continue to advance as far as possible in this year's postseason.

"We're in a good spot," Descalso said. "Our two through six guys are tough for anybody to get through, especially when you've got me and Pete (Kozma) contributing from the bottom. We're all determined to make something special happen. We know how much fun we had last year, and we're excited Carlos is here with us, and we want him to experience the same thing we did last year."

Leadoff hitter Jon Jay added two hits and three RBIs to the St. Louis attack, and he also turned in the defensive play of the day, robbing Danny Espinosa of an extra-base hit with a leaping catch against the wall in left center.

"After the game yesterday we really wanted to come out today and we knew how big this game was," Jay said. "That's the type of offense we have. We'll go out there and have good at-bats, and we were able to come up with big hits today. We've seen it all year, when we are able to do that, we are pretty dangerous and it worked out today."

That's something the Nationals know all too well.

"Hitters are smart and they see patterns," Johnson said, "especially with all the technology. They look at every start, see how you pitch. And pitchers have to make adjustments. ... You can't go after a club and just throw hard. You've got to pitch. You can't stay one way."

Bryce Harper struck out four times for Washington but did get his first postseason hit, a double in the seventh. He was thrown out at third trying to advance on Ryan Zimmerman's sacrifice fly.

In the two games, the Nationals struck out a combined 24 times.

NOTES: The series moves to Washington for Game 3 on Wednesday, and after lobbying by Johnson for either an early or evening start to avoid an issue with shadows, it was announced the game time will be 1:07 p.m. ET. The game will be televised by the MLB Network ... The Cardinals are scheduled to start Chris Carpenter, who pitched only three games in the regular season after recovering from a July operation near his right shoulder. Carpenter started and won two potential elimination games for the Cardinals last year, Game 5 of the Division Series against the Phillies and Game 7 of the World Series against the Rangers ... Edwin Jackson, who started four games in the postseason for the Cardinals last year, will start for the Nationals ... The Nationals are a combined 9-2 against the Cardinals in Washington the last three seasons ... Adam Wainwright's 10 strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings in Game 1 made him the first starting pitcher in postseason history to record 10 strikeouts in less than six innings ... Tyler Moore, who had the game-winning pinch hit in Game 1, had only one go-ahead pinch-hit RBI in the regular season, a two-run homer off the Mets' R.A. Dickey on Sept. 11 ... Game 1 was the first in the history of the Division Series without an extra base hit, and was the first time it's happened in a postseason game since Game 3 of the 1999 NLCS.
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