Cardinals blast past Dodgers

Matt Carpenter homered for the third consecutive game -- the first Cardinal ever to do so in a single postseason series.

ST. LOUIS -- Starting left-handed-hitting Kolten Wong against a left-hander was not a slam-dunk decision for the Cardinals on Monday night.

But playing Wong proved to be a winning decision when he slugged a two-run homer in the seventh inning that broke a 1-1 tie, lifted the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers and put them one win away from reaching the National League Championship Series for the fourth straight year.

They will try to clinch the NL Division Series on Tuesday afternoon against Clayton Kershaw. Shelby Miller will make his first postseason start for the Cardinals.

Wong had gone 0 for 2 against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, but he belted the first pitch he saw from lefty reliever Scott Elbert 407 feet into the right-field bullpen. Yadier Molina had led off the inning with a double.

Before the game, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny explained the decision to go with Wong. "We like the at-bats that Kolten is taking and we like him in the lineup," he said. "We don't necessarily rule him out every time there's a lefty on the mound. He's had some success against leftâ??handed pitching (.315 batting average against lefties)."

Cardinals right-hander John Lackey went seven innings and, like Ryu, allowed only one run. The Dodgers, however, ran into trouble once they turned the game over to their bullpen. For the Cardinals, closer Trevor Rosenthal and Pat Neshek each worked a scoreless inning to make sure Wong's blast would be the difference.

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