ST. LOUIS -- If Game 1 of the National League Championship Series is any indication, the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are headed for a fall classic before the Fall Classic.
Carlos Beltran burnished an already glowing postseason resume with a game-winning single in the bottom of the 13th inning early Saturday morning, giving St. Louis a 3-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series at sold-out Busch Stadium.
Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso singled with one out off Chris Withrow and Matt Carpenter drew a walk. Los Angeles closer Kenley Jansen came in but fell behind Beltran 3-1. Beltran then lined a cutter down the right field line and Descalso raced home from second, ending a 4-hour, 47-minute thriller.
Lance Lynn, the Cardinals' seventh pitcher, picked up the win with two scoreless innings.
The Dodgers were denied the go-ahead run in the 10th when Beltran nailed Mark Ellis at the plate as he tried to score from third after Michael Young's one-out fly ball to medium-deep right field.
Game 2 is Saturday, with Los Angeles sending ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound opposite 22-year old Michael Wacha, who came within five outs of a no-hitter on Monday in beating Pittsburgh in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
The Dodgers' Zack Greinke was no-decisioned despite eight often brilliant innings, fanning 10 and walking one while allowing just four hits and two runs. The right-hander retired 15 of the last 17 batters he faced.
Joe Kelly wasn't as spectacular as Greinke but worked six solid innings for St. Louis, scattering six hits and allowing two runs. Kelly walked two and fanned five.
Los Angeles missed a golden scoring opportunity in the top of the first, leaving men on second and third with one out as Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a 3-2 changeup and Yasiel Puig chased a 2-2 slider in the dirt.
But old postseason reliable Juan Uribe gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead in the third by grounding a two-run single up the middle, scoring Hanley Ramirez and Gonzalez. Uribe lifted Los Angeles into the NLCS with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning on Monday night against Atlanta.
However, another postseason oldie but goodie got St. Louis on even ground in its half of the third. After Kelly singled with two outs and Carpenter walked, Beltran rifled a two-run double over the leaping Andre Ethier and off the center field wall.
It was Beltran's 50th postseason hit, and his 32nd and 33rd RBIs to go along with 16 homers.
NOTES: St. Louis 1B Allen Craig (Lisfranc sprain), who led the team in RBIs with 97 before getting injured on Sept. 4 in Cincinnati, was left off the 25-man roster. He's hoping to be available for the World Series, where he could serve as a designated hitter in American League parks. ... Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly left off LHP relievers Paco Rodriguez and Chris Capuano to add RHPs Carlos Marmol and Edinson Volquez to the bullpen. It leaves the Dodgers with just one left-hander, J.P. Howell, in the bullpen against the lefty-leaning Cardinals lineup. ... Los Angeles will start LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu in Game 3 and RHP Ricky Nolasco in Game 4. St. Louis hasn't decided whether to start RHPs Lynn or Shelby Miller in Game 4.