CHICAGO (AP) -- T.J. Oshie scored the lone goal in the shootout, Jaroslav Halak stopped all three Chicago shooters in the extra session and the St. Louis Blues defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday night.
David Backes scored a power-play goal for St. Louis, while Alexander Steen was credited with an even-strength score in regulation in the Blues' first road game.
Chicago's Marian Hossa scored on a breakaway and set up Brandon Pirri's first NHL goal in regulation. All but one of the Blackhawks' (4-1-2) first seven games have been decided by one goal.
The Blues (5-1-0) started the season with five straight home games, and won the first four before losing 6-2 to San Jose on Tuesday.
Chicago's Corey Crawford made 26 saves and Halak had 27.
Both goalies made a handful of tough stops early before Pirri opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first.
After taking Hossa's perfect pass, Pirri sent a one-timer from the left circle that ticked off the post and into the upper left corner of the net.
Backes' power-play goal at 10:14 of the first tied it at 1. He was parked in front of Crawford and deflected in Jay Bouwmeester's wrist shot from the left point.
The Blues dominated early in the second period. Any momentum was broken when St. Louis' Barret Jackman hit Chicago star Patrick Kane hard from behind and was sent off for boarding at 7:18.
Hossa put Chicago ahead 2-1 with 2:38 left in the second on a breakaway. After the puck slipped past the Blues' defense, both Hossa and Patrick Sharp skated in alone, and Hossa fired a shot past Halak on the stick side.
Steen was credited with a goal 51 seconds later that was inadvertently knocked in by Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith and tied it at 2.
Steen was 30 feet out in the slot, and deflected Bouwmeester's shot from the point. The puck slid to the right side of the crease where Keith was trying to tie up Backes, but Keith swept the puck on goal and past Crawford.
The Blackhawks and Blues are expected to battle at the top of the Central Division, and the rivalry was reflected in increasingly physical, sometimes chippy play on Thursday. Chicago enforcer Brandon Bollig and St. Louis' Roman Polak fought midway through the third.
Crawford made a tough close-in save on Alex Pietrangelo with just over seven minutes left to keep it tied.
Halak made an alert save on Brandon Saad 33 seconds into overtime with Jonathan Toews closing in for a rebound. Jackman's shot hit the post 3:17 into the extra period.
Notes: Pirri, who played in his ninth NHL game, led the AHL with 75 points in 76 games last season while with Rockford. ... Backes played his 500th game and Jackman played his 650th. ... The Blues have played the Blackhawks 288 times, more than any other team. ... St. Louis F Maxim Lapierre, who knocked San Jose D Dan Boyle out a game on Tuesday with a blow to the head, did not dress. Lapierre is scheduled for a hearing with the NHL on Friday. ... The Blackhawks had the NHL's third-best penalty killing last season en route to winning the Stanley Cup, but have allowed six power-play goals in 21 chances so far.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It took the Dodgers five games to hit a home run in the NL championship series. Once Adrian Gonzalez powered up for the first one, their dormant offense broke loose.
Gonzalez homered twice and Zack Greinke came through with the clutch performance Los Angeles needed in a 6-4 victory over the Cardinals on Wednesday that trimmed St. Louis' lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven playoff.
"Guys weren't ready to lose today," said Carl Crawford, who also went deep to help the Dodgers save their season.
Los Angeles held on in the ninth, when St. Louis scored twice off closer Kenley Jansen before he struck out pinch-hitter Adron Chambers with two on to end it.
The series shifts back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Friday night, with ace Clayton Kershaw scheduled to start for Los Angeles against rookie Michael Wacha.
When those two squared off in Game 2, the Cardinals won 1-0 on an unearned run.
"We've kind of become America's team because everyone wants to see a seventh game," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Probably even the fans in St. Louis would like to see a seventh game, so I figure that everybody's for us to win on Friday night."
The Cardinals also led last year's NLCS 3-1 before losing three straight games to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
"We're looking to do the same thing," Gonzalez said.
Desperate to avoid elimination, the Dodgers brought in some Hollywood star power for pregame introductions. Will Ferrell announced their lineup and lent a comic spin to each player's name, capping it by introducing Greinke as "today's winning pitcher."
Ferrell knew what he was talking about.
Greinke got into a bases-loaded jam with none out in the first but escaped with no damage. From there, he pitched seven strong innings and even delivered an RBI single.
"That was big. I was real nervous out there with that situation," Greinke said.
A.J. Ellis also homered at Dodger Stadium, where it is tougher to clear the fences in the heavy night air.
Helped by playing in 82-degree heat on a sunny afternoon, the Dodgers rediscovered their power stroke just in time to extend the series. They hit .274 in three games at home after batting .184 during the first two games in St. Louis.
"It was just one of those days that we were a little better, got some runs, good feeling," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers regrouped after Greinke squandered an early 2-0 lead just as he did in Game 1, which Los Angeles lost 3-2 in 13 innings on the road.
After neither team homered in the first three games for the first time in NLCS history, the big bats came out. The Cardinals used a two-run homer by Matt Holliday and a solo shot from pinch-hitter Shane Robinson to win 4-2 on Tuesday night.
This time, Gonzalez went 3 for 4 with two solo homers and three runs scored. His two-out shot in the eighth made it 6-2.
"We have a team that can bounce back and do some pretty incredible things out there," he said.
The Cardinals tied it at 2 in the third on Carlos Beltran's RBI triple and Holliday's run-scoring double before Yadier Molina grounded into his second inning-ending double play against Greinke.
"He wasn't as sharp as he was the first time we faced him," Beltran said. "But guys like that, the best guys in the game, they're able to regroup and find a way to help their team win."
Los Angeles answered in the bottom of the third. Mark Ellis singled leading off but was erased when Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play.
Gonzalez followed with the Dodgers' first homer of the NLCS, slugging the ball an estimated 428 feet into the right-field pavilion for a 3-2 lead.
As he headed toward the dugout, Gonzalez cupped his hands to his ears and wiggled them in a gesture resembling mouse ears. It was an apparent jab at Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright, who said Gonzalez had done "some Mickey Mouse stuff" in celebrating a double on Monday night.
"It's just having fun," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to retire them so they're not talked about once again."
Crawford egged Gonzalez on.
"I'm pretty sure it rubbed them the wrong way and they're going to use that as some kind of fuel, so you might as well keep doing it," Crawford said, laughing.
Gonzalez replied: "Hey, if Carl wants them. It's for him, not for anybody else."
After wriggling out of big trouble in the first when Molina bounced into a double play, Greinke allowed two runs and six hits. He struck out four and walked one.
"He made his pitches, we made the plays, got out of it," Gonzalez said. "We were able to get run support for him. All he needed was a few runs."
Jansen gave up RBI singles to Matt Adams and Pete Kozma in the ninth.
A.J. Ellis homered in seventh, sending an 0-2 pitch from Edward Mujica into the left-field pavilion to make it 5-2.
Crawford homered with one out in the fifth, extending the Dodgers' lead to 4-2. He walloped a 3-2 pitch from starter Joe Kelly an estimated 447 feet into the right-field pavilion.
Kelly gave up four runs and seven hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked none.
"I made a few bad pitches on heaters and didn't locate that well, and they turned into home runs," he said. "With guys on base, I was going after them and attacking them with the fastball, but they're good hitters and they put good swings on them and hit them out of the park."
Beltran's triple went over the head of Andre Ethier and to the wall in center, scoring Matt Carpenter, who singled. Holliday followed with a double to deep center, but that was it for St. Louis until the ninth.
"We had a couple of opportunities to do something, and we just couldn't make it happen," manager Mike Matheny said. "These guys have done a tremendous job in those exact same situations all season long. You're going to have games where you just can't make it happen, and we've got to figure out a way to get it done the next time we get a chance."
NOTES: Molina went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. ... Greinke's hit in the second was the third of his postseason career. ... Ramirez, playing with a broken left rib, left after six innings. ... In the three games Ramirez has started with the injury, only two grounders have been hit to him at shortstop. ... The homers by Gonzalez and Crawford were the first given up by Kelly in 24 career postseason innings. He allowed two homers in a game twice during the regular season. ... The Dodgers are trying to become the 12th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. ... Beltran's triple was his first ever in the postseason. ... Former Dodgers star Orel Hershiser tossed out the first pitch on the 25th anniversary of his three-hit shutout against Oakland in Game 2 of the 1988 World Series.
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.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Led by a pair of precocious rookies, the Los Angeles Dodgers got themselves right back into the NL championship series.
Hyun-Jin Ryu outpitched Adam Wainwright with seven innings of three-hit ball, and Yasiel Puig tripled home a run to help Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 on Monday night in Game 3.
Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double ended a 1-for-17 drought for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position. An ailing Hanley Ramirez added a run-scoring hit of his own as Los Angeles handed Wainwright his first postseason loss and trimmed its deficit to 2-1 in the best-of-seven series.
Game 4 is Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, with Ricky Nolasco scheduled to start against St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn.
Los Angeles got Ramirez and center fielder Andre Ethier back in the lineup after both proved in batting practice they were healthy enough to play. Ramirez wore a lightweight flak jacket to protect his broken left rib - having been hit by a pitch from Joe Kelly in Game 1 - while Ethier has been bothered by shin splints.
"What can I say? It couldn't be better," Ramirez said. "Really happy we got the first win. Just come back tomorrow and even up the series."
Ramirez singled his first time up off Wainwright and then helped the Dodgers extend their lead to 3-0 in the eighth.
Ramirez hit a soft single off Seth Maness over the head of new second baseman Kolten Wong to score Carl Crawford. The speedy Crawford, on second base after a one-out single, rounded third and never stopped running when the throw from the outfield went to second base.
On a close play at the plate, Crawford barely beat the tag by catcher Yadier Molina.
During the rally, retired Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, whose 1988 team won the franchise's last World Series title, stood up and waved his white rally towel to raucous applause.
Ryu and Wainwright were nearly even through the first three scoreless innings, with Wainwright giving up one hit. Ryu, who struggled in his first career postseason start in the division series against Atlanta, retired 12 of his first 13 batters, yielding only a walk.
Ryu was much improved after lasting just three innings as the first South Korean pitcher to start a playoff game last week against Atlanta. He allowed four runs on six hits for a no-decision in a game the Dodgers won.
The left-hander didn't allow a Cardinals runner past second base. David Freese's single to right leading off the fifth was their first hit of the game.
Freese was replaced by a pinch-runner in the fifth because of tightness in his right calf. He is day to day.
Ryu struck out four and walked one.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly came out to the mound accompanied by a translator with two outs in the seventh. Ryu responded by striking out Matt Adams to end the inning as catcher A.J. Ellis pumped his right arm in the air. Fans waved South Korean flags in support of Ryu.
Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for a save.
Wainwright gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. The right-hander struck out five and walked none in his first career postseason loss.
Puig's RBI triple in the fourth snapped an 0-for-11 skid in the series.
After the first two games in St. Louis were decided by one run, the Dodgers got to Wainwright in the fourth and took a 2-0 lead.
Gonzalez's double down the right-field line scored Mark Ellis, who doubled leading off. With two outs, Puig tripled off the wall in right, scoring Gonzalez.
Puig had struck out seven times before getting his first hit against the Cardinals. He raised his arms and watched the ball sail toward right before starting to charge harder when he realized it wasn't going to be a home run. He ran into third base and clapped his hands before raising them again as the sellout crowd of 53,940 cheered.
"He brings unbelievable energy every day," Ramirez said. "When we spoke to him, he told me, `I got it today,' and he did. He's a great player."
Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay was involved in an apparent miscommunication when the ball hit by Mark Ellis dropped between him and right fielder Carlos Beltran. The Dodgers' first hit, a single by Ramirez to shallow center in the first, dropped between Jay and second baseman Matt Carpenter.
NOTES: Ethier was 0 for 4 with a strikeout. ... Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, Ron Cey and Steve Garvey - baseball's first 30-homer quartet in 1977 - tossed ceremonial first pitches. That Dodgers team won the NL pennant before losing to the Yankees in six games in the World Series. ... Neither team has hit a home run through the first three games. ... Among the famous faces in attendance were Dustin Hoffman and Ice Cube.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Lance Lynn will start Game 4 of the NL championship series for the St. Louis Cardinals, perhaps strengthening his case when he earned the win in Game 1.
Rookie 15-game winner Shelby Miller had also been under consideration. Miller warmed up early in Game 1 and manager Mike Matheny said Saturday he'd be available in the bullpen in Game 2.
Lynn worked the last two innings of the Cardinals' 3-2, 13-inning victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. He took the loss in Game 2 of the NL division series against the Pittsburgh and has failed to pitch five innings in any of his three career postseason starts the last two seasons.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- David Backes scored twice, and the unbeaten St. Louis Blues beat the slumping New York Rangers 5-3 on Saturday night.
The Blues, who haven't trailed at all this season, are 4-0 for the first time in franchise history.
Derek Roy, Alexander Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko added goals for St. Louis, which has outscored its opponents 19-7. Jaroslav Halak made 26 saves to improve to 4-0.
Ryan Callahan scored twice for the Rangers (1-4), and Brad Richards added his team-leading fourth goal. New York, which has four games left on a season-opening, nine-game trip, has lost three in a row by a combined score of 20-5.
St. Louis scored four times on its first 17 shots against backup goalie Martin Biron, who was making his first start of the season. Biron was pulled after the second period in favor of regular netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
Biron stopped 13 of 17 shots. Lundqvist allowed one goal on 17 shots.
The Blues won their first three games in 1969 and 1993, but had never won four in a row to start a season in their 47-year history.
Backes, who scored just six goals last season in the lockout-shortened campaign, already has four this season. He didn't notch his fourth last season until the Blues' 35th game.
Backes put St. Louis ahead 2-1 by beating Biron with a wrist shot at 5:11 of the second period. He pushed the lead to 4-2 later in the frame off a pass from T.J. Oshie.
Steen added three assists giving him a team-leading eight points - including four goals.
New York tied it 1-1 on Callahan's first of the season, but trailed the rest of the way after Backes scored his first. The Rangers' goal came during a 5-on-3 power play with 5.8 seconds left in the first period.
Callahan closed the gap to 4-3 with a power-play goal at 2:54 of the third. Tarasenko restored the Blues' two-goal lead with a power-play goal midway through the period.
NOTES: St. Louis is 27-6-5 against the Eastern Conference since the start of the 2010-11 season. ... Rangers LW Rick Nash missed his second consecutive game because of a head injury sustained Tuesday on a hit by San Jose's Brad Stuart. Stuart was suspended three games by the NHL. ... Lundqvist has beaten every NHL team except St. Louis. ... The Blues allowed their first third-period goal of the season. ... St. Louis is starting the season with five straight home games for the second time in team history.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Matched against ace Clayton Kershaw, the only thing Michael Wacha lacked was a no-hit watch.
"He's becoming a guy a lot of teams wish they drafted," teammate David Freese said. "What he's done is remarkable, especially on this stage."
Wacha stared down a bases-loaded test in the sixth inning and pitched into the seventh, and the kids in the bullpen also were impervious to October pressure, keeping the Los Angeles Dodgers bats silent for the second straight day and winning 1-0 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series.
"I'm kind of at a loss for words to describe him," said fellow rookie Kevin Siegrist, who got a big out to end the seventh. "It's kind of ridiculous how well he's done so far."
The Cardinals managed only two hits off Kershaw and the Dodgers, but Jon Jay's sacrifice fly set up by Freese's double and A.J. Ellis' passed ball in the fifth stood up.
The Dodgers' scoreless streak in the NLCS reached 19 innings after they averaged 6 1/2 runs in a four-game division series against Atlanta. Rookie fireballer Trevor Rosenthal struck out the side in the ninth with a heater reaching 101 mph, fanning pinch-hitter Andre Ethier on three pitches to end it.
A day after outlasting Los Angeles 3-2 in 13 innings, the Cardinals moved two wins away from the World Series.
Game 3 is Monday at Dodger Stadium, with Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright facing rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Dodgers have already used their top two starters and have nothing to show for it.
"We don't get too far ahead of ourselves," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We don't deny also what's happened here the last two days.
"Those were two very good wins, two very tough wins when you face starters like that."
Hanley Ramirez and Ethier were out of the Dodgers' lineup with injuries after starting in the opener. Los Angeles missed a handful of opportunities, going 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position for a two-day total of 1 for 16. Star rookie Yasiel Puig struck out in all four of his at-bats.
"We had our chances," Kershaw said. "We had our chances, for sure. You've got to give a lot of credit to Wacha."
The teams may have been hindered by shadows creeping across Busch Stadium in a late-afternoon start, with lights providing no real help. Both also were no doubt fatigued, which might have shown on the crucial passed ball by Ellis that wound up resulting in an unearned run.
Wacha was nearly untouchable for the third straight start, allowing five hits with eight strikeouts and a walk in 6 2-3 innings.
The 22-year-old right-hander was one out away from a no-hitter in his last start of the regular season, losing it on an infield hit by Washington's Ryan Zimmerman. Wacha ignored a crowd chanting his name in Game 4 of the division series at Pittsburgh, holding the Pirates hitless for 7 1-3 innings to bring the series back home.
In 22 2-3 innings in his last three starts, Wacha has given up two runs on seven hits with 26 strikeouts and five walks.
The 6-6 Wacha struck out Puig and Juan Uribe with the bases loaded to end the sixth. Catcher Yadier Molina helped by making a couple trips to the mound.
"That was a game-changer right there," Molina said. "To get out of that inning was unbelievable."
Kershaw led off with a single, and runners were on second and third after second baseman Matt Carpenter slid in shallow right to glove Carl Crawford's infield hit but threw it away for an error trying to get a forceout at second.
Adrian Gonzalez was walked intentionally to load the bases and the Dodgers 4-5 hitters coming up. Puig struck out on a fastball in the dirt and Uribe had a feeble cut chasing a 1-2 pitch out of the zone.
Carpenter tripled on Kershaw's first pitch of the game but didn't budge when the lefty retired the next three on nine pitches.
The Cardinals had another runner at third with nobody out in the fifth after Freese doubled and advanced on a passed ball by Ellis, This time they converted on Jay's sacrifice fly to shallow left as Crawford's throw was well offline.
The previous pitch the Cardinals tried to squeeze in a run with the Dodgers infield playing in, but Jay fouled off a 1-1 pitch.
Kershaw worked six snappy innings, needing just 72 pitches. He gave up two hits and struck out five.
The majors' ERA leader had plenty left, too, but the Dodgers needed runs and manager Don Mattingly opted for pinch-hitter Michael Young after Nick Punto's two-out single in the seventh.
"I always want to stay in the game, but I understand where Donnie's coming from," Kershaw said. "I get it. We can't give up any more outs and Michael Young is one of the best players the last 10 years."
The Cardinals lifted Wacha for another stingy rookie. Siegrist, who had a minuscule 0.45 ERA in his debut season, threw a pair of wild pitches before getting Young on a flyout to end the seventh.
Relievers Randy Choate and Carlos Martinez pitched the eighth for St. Louis before turning it over to Rosenthal.
The Cardinals handed Kershaw two of his nine losses this season and have beaten him four consecutive times overall.
NOTES: SS Ramirez was a late scratch with sore ribs after getting plunked in the first inning of Game 1. Ethier has been slowed by a sore ankle. ... Carpenter has a hit each of the first two games after entering the NLCS in a 3 for 39 slump. ... Choate, the lone veteran reliever the Cardinals used in Game 2, has gotten two outs on four pitches in two appearances.