LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Thanks to two big swings and some excellent defense, the St. Louis Cardinals are one win from the World Series.
Just like last year.
Matt Holliday and pinch-hitter Shane Robinson connected for the first home runs of the NL championship series, and St. Louis beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Tuesday night to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven playoff.
"We can't get ahead of ourselves," Holliday said.
In a series starved for offense, the Cardinals scored as many runs as they did in the first three games combined, when the teams totaled nine runs.
Game 5 is Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, with the Cardinals one win from the World Series. Zack Greinke is set to start for Los Angeles against Joe Kelly.
Of course, St. Louis had a 3-1 lead in last year's NLCS before dropping three straight to San Francisco, the eventual World Series champion.
"Hopefully, we can throw some offense together like we were today a little bit and keep some positive thoughts going," manager Mike Matheny said. "When we start talking about where the series is, I think it's a distraction. What we've got to do is play a game."
It was a painful defeat for the Dodgers - in more ways than one. Star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, playing with a broken left rib, left in the middle of the sixth after striking out three times.
"It got worse as we went along," manager Don Mattingly said.
St. Louis third baseman David Freese came out after six innings. He left Monday's game with a cramp in his right calf.
Hitless in his previous 22 at-bats at Dodger Stadium, Holliday sent a two-run shot off Ricky Nolasco an estimated 426 feet to left field, capping a three-run third that gave the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
"That's about as good as I can hit one," said Holliday, who was 0 for 13 in the series before connecting.
"I wasn't really doubting my swing at all. I felt actually really good with my at-bats. Sometimes in this game you don't always get the results that you want even if you feel like you're having good at-bats, so I just wanted to stay with it," he said.
Seeking a second World Series title in three years, St. Louis turned three important double plays and picked off a runner at second base in the seventh. Defensive standout Pete Kozma, inserted at shortstop in the sixth, started a difficult double play and darted in to complete the pickoff.
Second baseman Matt Carpenter also keyed St. Louis' sharp work with the gloves, one night after some sloppy play was costly in a 3-0 defeat.
Carpenter had an RBI double in the third that scored Daniel Descalso, who hit a leadoff single. Carpenter came around on Holliday's homer after there were none in the first three games for the first time in NLCS history.
Carlos Martinez pitched two scoreless innings in relief of winner Lance Lynn. Trevor Rosenthal got three outs for his second save in the series.
After a leadoff single by Andre Ethier in the ninth, Yasiel Puig grounded into a double play. Juan Uribe struck out to end it, leaving the Dodgers on the brink of elimination.
Now, they'll count on Greinke and ace Clayton Kershaw to pitch them back into the series.
"Kind of the best thought I have is, I've got one of the best pitchers in baseball pitching tomorrow," Mattingly said. "If we come out here and play well tomorrow and get a win, I've probably got the best pitcher in baseball pitching the next day."
Robinson's home run bounced off the top of the wall in left field on a 1-0 pitch from J.P. Howell with one out in the seventh, extending the Cardinals' lead to 4-2.
"For a little guy, he's got surprising power," Holliday said. "I mean, honestly, he's got some thump."
Lynn allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.
The right-hander lost his only other start this postseason, giving up five runs over 4 1-3 innings in Game 2 of the division series against Pittsburgh.
The Dodgers were down 4-2 in the seventh when Nick Punto doubled with one out. Martinez, however, picked off Punto before throwing another pitch and then retired Carl Crawford on an inning-ending groundout.
Trailing 3-2, the Dodgers put the potential tying run on base in the sixth when Puig singled to chase Lynn. Uribe grounded into a double play against Seth Maness to end the inning.
The Dodgers stuck with Nolasco as their starter even though he hadn't pitched since Sept. 29. He struggled in his last three starts in September, giving up at least five earned runs in each.
Nolasco was passed over for his scheduled assignment in Game 4 of the division series, when the Dodgers chose to use Kershaw on three days' rest for the first time in his career. Kershaw pitched well and took a no-decision in a 4-3 victory over Atlanta that clinched the series.
Before this one, Mattingly had said Nolasco was being put in a difficult position after not pitching for so long. Mattingly said Kershaw and Greinke both offered to start on short rest at Dodger Stadium.
Nolasco allowed three runs and three hits in four innings. He struck out four and walked one.
Los Angeles scored twice in the fourth to cut it to 3-2. Adrian Gonzalez hit a leadoff double and scored on Puig's single. A.J. Ellis singled to drive in Andre Ethier, who walked.
But just when it appeared the Dodgers had grabbed the momentum, pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker bounced into an inning-ending double play.
NOTES: St. Louis won a Game 4 on the road for the first time in NLCS play. ... Nolasco, who is from nearby Corona and grew up a Dodgers fan, made the first postseason start of his career. ... Schumaker was 3 for 21 with no RBIs as a pinch-hitter during the regular season, and struck out in his only other at-bat as a pinch-hitter in the postseason. ... There was a pregame moment of silence for MLB umpire Wally Bell, who died Monday at 48. ... Tuesday marked the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson's famous pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth at Dodger Stadium, giving Los Angeles a 5-4 win over Oakland in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. ... Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda, who at 86 is special adviser to the team chairman, tossed out a first pitch from midway between the mound and home plate that missed the target. Mattingly, who was catching, gave him a mulligan. Lasorda managed that 1988 team, the Dodgers' last appearance in the World Series. ... With the government partially shut down, there was a pregame flyover of vintage aircraft by a nonprofit organization founded by a group of World War II fighter pilots. ... Among the famous faces in the crowd were Tom Cruise and Bryan Cranston of "Breaking Bad."
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Joe Thornton had a goal and three assists and Patrick Marleau had a goal and two assists and the San Jose Sharks downed the St. Louis Blues 6-2 Tuesday night.
The Sharks (6-0-0) won the matchup of unbeaten teams, but they had other concerns after the game.
The Sharks were concerned about the status of teammate Dan Boyle after the game after losing their veteran defenseman with a head injury.
Boyle was taken off on a stretcher early in the first period following a check from behind by the Blues' Maxim Lapierre, who was ejected from the game for checking from behind.
A Sharks spokesperson said Boyle was alert and responsive on the way to the hospital.
The Sharks got a goal and assist from Logan Couture.
Joe Pavelski, Tommy Wingels and Scott Hannan also scored, while Antti Niemi stopped 25 shots.
The Blues, who dropped to 4-1-0 on the season, had their 10-game regular-season home winning streak snapped as the Sharks won in dominating fashion.
Jaroslav Halak also suffered his first defeat of the season, stopping 22 shots and was replaced by Brian Elliott to start the third period. It was Elliott's first action of the season.
Vladimir Tarasenko broke Niemi's shutout with his fourth goal in as many games for the Blues. Roman Polak also scored for the Blues.
After the Boyle injury, it was a penalty-filled first period, with 79 minutes in penalties handed out.
Lapierre was ejected for a five-minute checking from behind penalty as well as fighting, as was teammate Ryan Reaves.
The Sharks also lost forward and Matt Pelech with a fighting major and game misconduct. Andrew Desjardins was originally awarded a fighting major and 10-minute game misconduct, but was changed to a 10-minute misconduct and he was able to return for the second period.
Later in the period, San Jose's Brent Burns checked the Blues' Brenden Morrow from behind into the boards, but only got a two-minute boarding penalty to the resounding boos from Blues fans.
The Sharks took a 2-0 lead on power-play scores from Couture and Pavelski just 48 seconds apart.
Both goals came from the left circle, with Couture scoring at 9:37.
The Blues trailed on home ice for the first time since April 16, 2013, a stretch of 568:47.
Pavelski one-timed his first of the season on the short side past Halak just after a 27-second two-man advantage for the Sharks expired.
The Sharks added to their lead in the second period, getting goals from Wingels and Hannan to grab a 4-0 lead.
Wingels scored on a wraparound off the skate of Barret Jackman 8:34 into the period for a 3-0 lead, and Hannan with his first of the season off a slap shot with 2:47 left in the period for a 4-0 lead.
Thornton made it 5-0 on a shot from the slot, beating Elliott 5:06 into the third period off a pass from rookie Tomas Hertl.
Tarasenko hammered home a rebound off a shot from Jaden Schwartz at 7:23 of the third period to make it a 5-1 Sharks lead. Polak's shot from the low slot with 7:32 remaining cut the Sharks' lead to 5-2.
Marleau added his fifth of the season at 17:06, the Sharks' third power-play goal of the game.
NOTES: Hertl leads the NHL in rookie scoring with nine points. ... San Jose's win was only its second in the past eight meetings with the Blues. ... The Blues' previous home regulation home loss was April 14, 2013, to Chicago. ... The Sharks lead the NHL in goals (30) and goal differential (plus-21). ... Polak's goal was his first since April 11, 2013, second in two seasons and 10th of his career.
First degree murder and child abuse charges have been dropped against a St. Louis woman whose child's body was found in a trash bin in 2011.
Thirty-year-old Melissa Jackson was scheduled to go on trial on Monday in the death of her 18-month-old son, Marquell, who was found in a trash bin behind his home in May 2011. His mother pleaded not guilty to the charges.
She spent about 10 months in jail before being released on bail in March 2012. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that her attorney, Scott Rosenblum, received notice Monday that all charges were dropped. Susan Ryan, spokeswoman for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, would not explain why the charges were dropped.
City police spokeswoman, Schron Jackson, informed the newspaper that an officer might have compromised the case by not sharing critical information with homicide detectives. Jackson says an Internal Affairs investigation will be initiated.