ST. LOUIS--You don't tug on Superman's cape. And you don't give Carlos Beltran a chance to beat you in the postseason.
One of the best postseason performers in baseball history, Beltran drove in all three of the St. Louis Cardinals' runs Friday night -- including the winner early Saturday morning in the 13th inning. Beltran's one-out single off Dodgers reliever Kenley Jansen ended the third-longest game in National League Championship Series history and allowed the Cardinals to take Game 1 with a 3-2 victory.
"Carlos is a tough out for us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said simply.
And a lot of other teams. In 40 postseason games, Beltran is a .345 hitter (51 for 148) with 16 home runs and 34 RBI.
"I try not to keep up with the numbers," Beltran said. "When you try to keep up with the numbers, bad things can happen. You start looking for home runs. I'm aware of what I've done. ... It's always great to be able to come through and help the ballclub. That's what it's all about."
Beltran's two-out, two-run double in the third inning was the only damage against Dodgers starter Zack Greinke. Greinke and four relievers combined to hold the Cardinals scoreless over the next nine innings, allowing just three hits and only one runner past first base in that time.
In the 13th, though, Chris Withrow gave up a one-out bloop single to pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso and walked Matt Carpenter, who was 2 for 23 in the postseason. That brought up Beltran, and Mattingly went to Jansen. But Jansen fell behind in the count and Beltran stroked a 3-and-1 pitch into right field.
"I was just trying to get a pitch to hit," Beltran said. "He made a good pitch with a backdoor cutter for a strike then he tried to make me chase and I was able to get myself in a hitter's count. I knew he was going to have to give me a pitch to hit.
"It was right down the middle. I don't blame him. He was trying to throw a strike there."
Beltran came through for the Cardinals but two of the Dodgers' best hitters were not able to provide heroics for them -- one because Mattingly took him out of the game, the other because that move effectively took the bat out of his hands.
In a 2-2 tie in the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez led off with a walk and Mattingly chose to use pinch-runner Dee Gordon. The move backfired when Yasiel Puig bounced into a forceout and Juan Uribe into an inning-ending double play.
And it kept backfiring on him the rest of the night.
Michael Young came in for Gonzalez and had two opportunities to drive in the go-ahead run after the Cardinals chose to intentionally walk Hanley Ramirez in front of him -- a tactic they might not have used with Gonzalez still in the game.
"It's one of those things where you've got to shoot your bullet when you get a chance," Mattingly said. "If we don't use him (Gordon) there and the next guy hits a ball in the gap and he (Gonzalez) doesn't score and we don't score there, we're going to say, 'Why didn't you use Dee?'
"You get a guy on in that inning and you have to take a shot at scoring a run."
The Dodgers' next scoring opportunity didn't come until the 10th inning when Mark Ellis' drive to right-center skipped past center fielder Jon Jay to the wall for a triple. It was the Dodgers' first hit since the sixth inning.
But the Cardinals walked Ramirez to face Young, who lofted a fly ball to right-center. Beltran called off Jay, caught the ball and fired home. The throw easily beat Ellis, who crashed into Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and was called out.
In the 12th, Young came up with runners on first and second and again hit into an inning-ending double play.
"Well, I was going to give those guys credit," Mattingly said of the failures of the Dodgers' offense. "I mean, we're down to the final four and you're looking at two pretty good teams and we played a pretty good game tonight with a lot of good pitching. There were a lot of big outs that both teams got tonight.
"We had a couple opportunities to get a run in and we didn't do it. If the rest of the series is like this game, it should be a pretty good one."
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