LOS ANGELES — The St. Louis Cardinals are hitting a measly .148 through four games of the National League Championship Series.
Somehow, they are one win away from their second World Series appearance in three years and fourth since 2004.
Shane Robinson hit an unlikely pinch-hit home run, Matt Holliday smacked a two-run shot and Lance Lynn pitched effectively into the sixth as St. Louis pulled out a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers for a firm series lead.
Lynn (2-0) worked around six hits and three walks over 5 1/3 innings and allowed just two runs to pick up his second win of the series and put the Cardinals on the brink of another Fall Classic.
St. Louis was also ahead 3-1 in last year’s NLCS before the eventual champion San Francisco Giants rallied and stole the final three games.
The Dodgers are faced with a similar task but may have to play without star shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who exited in the seventh inning after apparently aggravating his broken rib.
Los Angeles had the tying run at home plate in the ninth, and were looking for more postseason magic on the 25th anniversary of Kirk Gibson’s infamous walk-off homer in Game 1 of the World Series. The dangerous Yasiel Puig, however, grounded into a rally- killing double play, and Trevor Rosenthal struck out Juan Uribe to close out the win.
Game 5 is scheduled for this afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
DETROIT — Hits have been hard to come by for the Boston Red Sox in the American League Championship Series, but they’ve sure made them count.
Mike Napoli broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run off Justin Verlander in the seventh inning, and John Lackey and the Boston bullpen made the blast stand up in a 1-0 Game 3 squeaker that gave the Red Sox the upper hand in this best-of-seven set.
The Red Sox had mustered a mere three hits and one run for the series entering the eighth inning of Sunday’s Game 2, when David Ortiz brought Boston back to life with a game-tying grand slam and the AL East champs rallied for a thrilling 6-5 win.
They managed only four hits and struck out 10 times in eight innings against Verlander (0-1), but shut down a Detroit lineup that continually failed in the clutch to take a 2-1 series lead heading to Wednesday’s Game 4.
Lackey (1-0) was splendid during his 6 2/3-inning stint, holding the Tigers to four hits and striking out eight without a walk. Three relievers finished off the shutout, with Game 2 winner Koji Uehara shutting the door with a four-out save. Detroit went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position for the game, with Torii Hunter and Victor Martinez each going 2-for-4 in the loss.