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Cards ride two homers to 3-1 NLCS lead

The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Twenty-five years later, hearts were broken at Dodger Stadium by the long ball.

On a night when the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's magical two-run, limp-off home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, homers by Matt Holliday and Shane Robinson lifted the St. Louis Cardinals within one win of a National League title.

Thanks to a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers on Tuesday, the Cardinals lead the National League Championship Series three games to one.

Holliday's two-run homer in the third inning off Ricky Nolasco went an estimated 426 feet and gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead. Prior to the at-bat, Holliday was 0-for-13 in the series.

"I was screaming the whole two minutes it was in the air," Robinson said. "That thing was a bomb."

Robinson's pinch-hit homer bounced off the top of the left field fence in the seventh to complete the scoring. It was his first hit in 11 career postseason at-bats.

"Anything to help our team win," Robinson said, "especially in the postseason, against the Dodgers, at their place. All those things stack up and it make it one of the top moments of my baseball career."

Shane joined Frank, Brooks and Jackie as Robinsons with postseason homers. The latter three are all in the Hall of Fame.

The Cardinals have three chances to advance to their 19th World Series, which would tie San Francisco for the most among NL teams. The Cardinals lost a 3-1 lead against the Giants in last year's NLCS.

Game 5 is Wednesday at Dodger Stadium, and St. Louis would host Games 6 and 7 if necessary.

Holliday's homer, which came after a run-scoring double by Matt Carpenter, was the first for either team in an offensively challenged series. The teams combined for an NLCS record-low nine runs in the first three games.

"I got it good," Holliday said of his 10th postseason homer in 51 games. "Have I hit further ones? Maybe, but not in that kind of situation."

Yasiel Puig had two singles and drove in the Dodgers' first run in a two-run fourth inning off Lance Lynn, who went 5 1/3 innings to beat Los Angeles for the third time in four career starts. Lynn won the 13-inning series opener in relief.

A.J. Ellis also singled home a run for the Dodgers.

Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal got Puig to ground into a double play after Andre Ethier singled to open the ninth inning, and he recorded his second save of the series.

Hanley Ramirez, playing with a hairline fracture in his left ribcage, struck out three times against Lynn, taking three fastballs in his last at-bat in the fifth inning before leaving the game in top of the seventh.

"He was having a little more trouble today as the game went on," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It got worse as we went along. We'll try it again tomorrow. We'll see where he goes tomorrow, if he's able to get loose. Basically we are at the same spot."

Lynn allowed two runs on six hits, and Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez and Rosenthal pitched a combined 3 2/3 scoreless innings to secure the win. Martinez hit 100 mph on the stadium radar gun with a pitch in the eighth inning.

Nick Punto, who entered the game in a double switch when Ramirez left, doubled with one out in the last of the seventh inning but was picked off second base by Martinez.

"I don't think we need to think about winning three (games)," Mattingly said. "We need to win one. That's all we need to do is win one game. We've got a pretty good guy (Zack Greinke) on the hill tomorrow. You feel like you're going to have a pretty good chance of winning tomorrow. So we'll see where it goes."

NOTES: St. Louis 3B David Freese returned to the starting lineup after being pulled in the fifth inning of Game 3 with right calf tightness. He went 0-for-3, leaving him 5-for-29 (.172) with a home run and four RBIs in the postseason. ... Mattingly said he wavered on using Greinke and LHP Clayton Kershaw on three days' rest beginning in Game 4 of the series before deciding it "was not the right thing" and staying with Nolasco. ... Greinke will oppose Cardinals RHP Joe Kelly in Game 5 on Wednesday, a rematch of the Game 1 starters. Each gave up two runs in the third inning of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning victory. Greinke struck out 10 in eight innings.
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