Cards within win of pennant, beating Brew Crew 7-1

By R.B. Fallstrom/The Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — The bumbling Brewers made four errors that led to three unearned runs, and the St. Louis Cardinals survived a short start by Jaime Garcia to beat Milwaukee 7-1 Friday night to take a 3-2 lead in the NL championship series.

Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday had three hits each for St. Louis, which burst to a 3-0 lead in the second when Molina doubled in a run and third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. allowed Garcia’s grounder to go through his legs. Holliday capped the scoring with a two-run single in the eighth.

Milwaukee’s infield nearly had a cycle of errors, with second baseman Rickie Weeks and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt also committing miscues along with reliever Marco Estrada. Weeks had committed the Brewers’ only two errors in the first four games of the series.

St. Louis can wrap up the best-of-seven series and its 18th NL pennant on Sunday in Milwaukee. Edwin Jackson goes for the Cardinals against Shaun Marcum in a rematch of pitchers from Game 2, won by St. Louis 12-3 as neither starter received a decision.

The NL winner hosts the World Series opener against Detroit or Texas on Wednesday.

Milwaukee had not made more than three errors in a game during the regular season, but the Brewers’ sloppiness reached a near-record level. Milwaukee was one shy of the LCS record for errors in a game, shared by the 1974 Los Angeles Dodgers and 1976 New York Yankees, according to STATS LLC.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had a quick hook once again. Garcia opened with four scoreless innings, then allowing three hits and a sacrifice in a span of four at-bats in the fifth. With two and on and two outs, Octavio Dotel relieved and struck out Ryan Braun.

Dotel (1-0) struck out two in 1 1-3 hitless innings, combining with three other relievers for 4 1-3 innings of scoreless, two-hit relief. Jason Motte got four outs for his second save of the series, leaving Cardinals relievers 2-0 with a 1.66 ERA in 22 2-3 innings. St. Louis starters are 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA.

Zack Greinke (1-1) left pitches over the plate in some key spots and allowed five runs — just two earned — and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings with no strikeouts and two walks.