ST. LOUIS - Allen Craig and Yadier Molina made certain nobody would be complaining about their poor at-bats for the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday.
So did a good many of their teammates, including Jon Jay and Carlos Beltran, as the Cardinals hit four home runs, including two by Beltran, to pound the Washington Nationals 12-4 in game two of the NL Division Series and even the best-of-five series at one win each.
A day after both Craig and Molina received criticism for swinging at the first pitch and failing to come through during bases-loaded at-bats that might have prevented a comeback by the Nationals, the two combined for five hits and three runs scored as the Cardinals pounded out 13 hits against seven Washington pitchers.
After the Cardinals were limited to three hits on Sunday, Craig and Molina opened the second inning with consecutive singles off starter Jordan Zimmermann, followed by a double by David Freese -- the first extra-base hit of the series - giving the Cardinals three hits in a span of seven pitches.
The hits ignited a four-run rally that wiped out an early 1-0 Washington lead and was just the start of a big offensive day for the Cardinals.
Craig and Daniel Descalso each hit solo homers before Beltran unloaded the 12th and 13th homers of his postseason career, a solo shot in the sixth and a two-run bomb in the eighth. It was his second two-homer game in the Division Series, having also hit two in a 2004 game for the Astros against Atlanta.
The Nationals got back-to-back solo homers by Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche in the fifth, but the Nationals could not keep pace with the St. Louis attack. The 12 runs equaled the most runs scored by the Cardinals in a Division Series game, having done it in the 2002 Division Series against Arizona.
Jay's second hit of the day, a triple in the eighth inning, produced his third RBI before he scored on Beltran's second homer. Jay also turned in the defensive play of the game, taking an extra-base hit away from Danny Espinosa leading off the sixth with a leaping catch against the wall in left-center.
Lance Lynn, who relieved starter Jaime Garcia after he struggled to get through two innings, got the win despite allowing the two Washington homers in his three innings of work.
Bryce Harper struck out four times for Washington but did get his first hit, a double in the seventh. He was thrown out at third trying to advance on 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 manager Davey 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 that has happened in a postseason game since Game 3 of the 1999 NLCS.