Cards cruise past Nats, even series at 1-1

St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hits a homerun in the sixth inning against the Washington...

St. Louis Cardinals' Carlos Beltran hits a homerun in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals during Game 2 of their MLB NLDS playoff baseball series in St. Louis, Missouri October 8, 2012. (REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:01 PM ET

ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Cardinals have displayed a hit-and-miss offence all season.

On Monday they didn’t miss a thing.

Making up for their pitiful display in their 3-2 loss on Sunday, a game where they managed three singles and stranded 10 runners, the Cardinals laid a beating on the youthful Washington Nationals as they hammered out a 12-4 victory to even their best-of-five Division Series with the Cards at a game apiece.

The teams resume play in Washington on Wednesday afternoon.

Overall, the Cardinals totalled 13 hits — four of them home runs — including two by Carlos Beltran.

Needing a better effort than they put forth in Game 1, the Cardinals came up with a giant one.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do as an offence and feel like when we get things going we can carry the team,” Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig, who had three hits including a solo homer, said. “It was a night where we put a lot of good swings on balls and drove the ball and it was a lot of fun.”

All season long it’s been feast or famine for the Cards and one of they keys for their bounce back was the fact there was no hint of panic after dropping the first game at home. Experience is one of their advantages and it came to the fore in Game 2.

“That’s kind of been the way we’ve gone about it all season, just taking it one day at a time,” Craig said. “It sounds cliche but it’s really worked for our team. Just forget about what happened yesterday and worry about the present and we put a really good effort out there today.”

This game was a big one for the Cardinals as they didn’t want to travel to Washington down two games to none with the remaining three games scheduled for the U.S. capital.

“Today's win was huge,” Craig added. “It was the closest thing to a must-win game that we’ve had all year. We came out on top and it’s going to be a good challenge for us going to Washington.”

They also had to win by overcoming a shoulder problem to starting pitcher Jaime Garcia, who lasted just two innings. It was clear that Garcia didn’t have his good stuff as he needed 51 pitches to get through his two innings.

“It was nice to see everybody have their part, but you know, certainly tip our hat to Lance Lynn being able to come in in a situation like that and perform and keep his composure and be prepared and then be able to carry us for a few innings,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the performance of his right-hander, who took over for Garcia

For Davey Johnson’s Nationals it was a disappointing effort, especially the one provided by his starter, Jordan Zimmermann.

It marked his sixth lifetime start against the Cards and with the loss he is 0-3. In his outing he allowed five earned runs on seven hits.

“That’s some of the youth in the pitching staff,” Johnson said. “He really didn’t make a lot of adjustments out there. He stayed one way — hard away. You have to use both sides of the plate and he really didn’t use his slider much early on.”

Johnson was asked if this was the type of offence he expected to see from St. Louis in the opening game?

“I hope I never see this offence again,” he said to laughter. “Their numbers speak for themselves. They have got a fine hitting ball club. Good pitching will slow down good hitting but you’ve got to make pitches and we didn’t do that tonight.”

The Cardinals put it into gear early as they scored four runs in the second inning and then built a 7-1 lead after the fourth. They cruised home from their and put away any hope of a Washington comeback with another four-spot in the eighth.

“After the game yesterday we really wanted to come out there today and we knew how big this game was for us,” said centre fielder Jon Jay, who had three hits, three RBIs and one tremendous catch. “So, you know, that’s the type of offence we have. We were able to come up with big hits today.

“We’ve seen it all year, when we were able to do that, we are pretty dangerous and it worked out today.”

Cards' clubhouse buzzing about Jay's catch

In a game where the St. Louis Cardinals banged out 13 hits and scored 12 runs, all everyone in the winning clubhouse wanted to talk about was Jon Jay’s catch.

In the sixth inning, holding a 7-3 lead, Washington’s Danny Espinosa hit a rocket to centre that looked like it could carry out or at the worst be a double off the wall. Jay, though, had another idea.

Getting a great jump on the ball, Jay raced to the wall and made a leaping, up-against-the-wall faceplant catch and somehow managed to hang on to the ball despite the jarring impact. It was a catch that Devon White in his heyday would have been proud of.

Best catch you’ve ever made?

“Yeah, I would agree,” Jay said laughing. “He put a good swing on the ball. Where I was from, I saw it up there and got a pretty good jump. I got to the warning track and made a choice to jump. I knew I had to make a choice and I made a jump and I was able to do that.”

It impressed all in the Cardinals’ camp.

“That’s the best catch I’ve ever seen, all things considered,” teammate Allen Craig said. “Just the timing of it, sticking his glove out at the last second, ran into the wall and held on to it. Everything about it was great.”

His manager was equally as excited.

“One of the best catches I’ve seen. I think it’s his best catch of the year,” Mike Matheny said. ”He barely looked up as he was hitting the wall.

“The biggest thing about him is how he’s taken charge in the outfield. He’s truly been quarterbacking and improving and it’s fun to watch him do his thing.”


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