Score and situation: Dodgers 5, Cardinals 1 Los Angeles wins series, 3-0
Leading lads: Vicente Padilla(notes) controlled the Cardinals, shutting them out for seven innings, allowing just four hits and a walk. Released by the Texas Rangers in August, Padilla was one of the Dodgers more reliable starters down the stretch, going 4-0 with a 3.20 ERA in the regular season. Through the years his stuff is rarely questioned, just some of the stuff he does. Some of the Rangers implied Padilla was a bad teammate, a discipline case. He also has the reputation for losing control — on purpose — of his pitches. None of this has happened with the Dodgers — he hasn't even hit a batter since coming over.
Let's not forget ManRam. One Dodgers coach wondered aloud before Game 3 if Manny would get a big hit some time soon in the series. He came through, going 3-for-5 overall, including an RBI double in the first that pressed the mute button on the Busch Stadium crowd. Afterward, in the Dodgers clubhouse, teammate Brad Ausmus(notes) toasted Ramirez and said, "You are back!" It drew a smile.
Head hangers: Other than most of the record 47,296 fans at Busch hanging their heads, right-hander Joel Pineiro(notes) wasn't able to keep the Dodgers off the scoreboard for very long. He allowed four runs and seven hits over four measly innings. Still, it's the Cards' offense, stupid. Or the stupid Cards offense. Albert Pujols(notes) drove in a run and had a pair of singles, and Colby Rasmus(notes) finished a fine series with his bat. But Matt Holliday(notes), headed for free agency, had another rough game: 0-for-4, plus a muffed ball in the outfield. A great season, 90 percent anyway, ends miserably.
Key play: Kind of like James Loney's(notes) grand slam against the Cubs at Wrigley Field in last season's opening round, Andre Ethier's(notes) two-run homer in the third inning was a nice little gut punch to the home-team Cards, who have been having trouble scoring runs.
Key stat: Speaking of the devil, St. Louis went 4-for-30 with runners in scoring position.
Key call: Here's Dodgers legend Vin Scully describing the championship moment.
What they're talking about: This probably wasn't what John Smoltz(notes) had in mind when he signed with the Cardinals — going out of the playoffs in the first round after one middle relief appearance. He allowed a run and four hits with five strikeouts over two innings.
What they're saying:
"Our main focus this year is getting farther than last year. We've still got eight more games to win. We're excited to see who we play the next round but we definitely got a lot of work to do." — Matt Kemp(notes)
What's next: Phillies or Rockies at Dodger Stadium in Game 1 of the NLCS on Thursday night.