ST. LOUIS -- The way Yadier Molina figured it was that if he had done what he wanted to do on Wednesday, the Cardinals wouldn't have needed to play Game 6 on Friday night.
In the Cardinals' 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League championship series, Molina, the heart and soul of his team, hit into a double play with the bases loaded in the first and grounded into another double play with runners at first and third to end the third. Then he struck out in his other two at-bats, including in the ninth in the midst of a rally that fell short.
But he was more team-MVP Yadier Molina on Friday night. He singled in a run in a four-run third and his single in the fifth was the first hit in a five-run inning as the Cardinals rolled the Dodgers, 9-0, to advance to their fourth World Series in the last 10 seasons.
"I was a little frustrated," said Molina of Game 5. "I've got the game there. But it's baseball. Sometimes you're going to do the job and sometimes that (0 for 4) happens. I really wanted to win today."
Molina is the only active Cardinals player who has been on all four of those teams.
"It never gets old," said Molina. "It never gets old.
"It's good to be in this position. Hopefully, we've got four more games to go."
The key at-bat in the third was the 11-pitch at-bat from Matt Carpenter, who battled Clayton Kershaw until he cracked the Dodgers' ace with a double to right.
"We took some good at-bats," said Molina. "We broke through. And look at what happened.
"Carpenter took a good, 11-pitch at-bat and after that, we go. We got some pitches to hit -- and we did it."
Shane Robinson, who had two hits and drove in two runs in his first postseason start, said the Carpenter at-bat engendered confidence throughout the dugout.
"You see that," said Robinson. "It's only contagious. It's like, 'We can get this guy today.' So we did."
Robinson said the Cardinals' philosophy Friday had been to attack as best they could Kershaw's fastball before he could finish off hitters with his devastating curve.
"It was be aggressive early and get a pitch you could do something with," said Robinson.
"We had some stats on him about throwing fastballs a lot early in the count and we kind of used that. But, for the most part, we tried to stay with a good (strike) zone and not chase.
"We just had his number this year. We have a lot of respect for him and he's a great pitcher. But we came out and we were the better team."
The four-run third, Robinson said, "showed that he could be hit."
Pitcher Chris Carpenter, who has been a member of all four teams, too, although he didn't get to pitch this year, noticed the approach against Kershaw, who has lost his last four starts against the Cardinals, counting two playoff starts this year.
"We've hit him well before," said Carpenter. "We had a good plan.
"I watched a little bit of it inside (on television) and he definitely left some balls (over the) plate to hit and we definitely took advantage.
"We're patient. We get balls to hit. And we're not chasing out of the strike zone.
"Early on, he threw a couple of those curveballs in the dirt and I was saying once we got him under some pressure, he wasn't going to be doing that. He'd have a chance to allow some runs.
"We were able to capitalize."
Hitting coach John Mabry said his charges "had a good approach and were able to stay with it. These guys are awesome. I knew they were going to break through. It was just a matter of time."
The Cardinals stranded a runner in scoring position in each of the first two innings but Mabry said he hadn't been concerned. "They were just pushing and doing what they did all year," he said.
Through the first five games of the series, the Cardinals had only 29 hits and batted .178. But they had 13 on Friday and were six for 14 with men in scoring position, more in line with their record-setting .330 average in those spots.
During the season, the Cardinals hit .246 the first time through the lineup, then .301 in their second look at a starter. The only other teams to hit .290 or better their second time against a starter were Boston and Detroit, the two teams playing Game 6 of the American League championship series on Saturday night.
The Cardinals had a brief hitters' meeting before the game, Mabry said. "We had a little one but it wasn't very long. These guys knew exactly what they were going to do."
Mabry, who did some of the talking, joked that his contribution was minimal.
"I turned on the lights and got out of the way," said Mabry.
Two of the four runs in the third inning were driven in by Robinson, who had hit a pinch homer in Game 4.
Headed for his first World Series as an active player (Robinson wasn't active in the 2011 run), the 28-year-old Robinson said Friday was the highlight of his career.
"I thought the home run was the highlight," he said. "But this one is a little better.
"This one is very memorable for me."
(c)2013 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Visit the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services