The St. Louis Cardinals beat the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in another pressure-packed pitchers' duel to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series on Saturday.
After holding the Dodgers scoreless for the last 10 innings of a 3-2, 13-inning win in the opener, St. Louis stifled them again, this time with hard-hitting shortstop Hanley Ramirez on the bench with bruised ribs after getting hit by a pitch Friday.
Rookie starter Michael Wacha and four relievers combined on a five-hit shutout to extend the scoreless streak to 19 innings.
"Up to this point, we haven't been able to get the key hit," lamented Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, whose team was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position after being 1-for-10 in those situations in Game One.
"We weren't able to put the run up when we needed it. If we get two key hits over the last two days, we're walking out of here up 2-0. Didn't happen, so we're walking out of here down two."
The only run was scored in the fifth inning when David Freese crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly to left by Jon Jay.
Freese led off with a double into the left-field corner and with one out advanced to third on a passed ball by Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis. He scored the unearned run on Jay's fly, well ahead of left fielder Carl Crawford's errant throw.
The Dodgers answered with a serious threat in the top of the sixth, loading the bases with one out. But Wacha rose to the challenge and struck out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe to end the inning and the 22-year-old skipped off the mound in delight.
Wacha, who came within one out of a no-hitter in the regular season finale and has continued his brilliance in the postseason, went six and two-thirds innings, giving up five hits and one walk while striking out eight.
Rookie closer Trevor Rosenthal, who pitched two innings in Friday's opening win, pitched the ninth and struck out the side, hitting 101 mph (162 kph) on his blistering fastball as the last five Dodgers hitters went down on strikes.
Los Angeles starter Clayton Kershaw was a hard-luck loser, going six innings and allowing just two hits, one unearned run, one walk and five strikeouts.
The Cardinals had only two hits and four baserunners in the game, but their pitchers made the meager offense stand up.
"The last two days, two very good wins, very tough wins facing starters like that," St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny said about going against Los Angeles starting pitchers Zack Greinke and Kershaw.
"We did a lot of little things right. It came down to pitching, came down to Michael (Wacha) being pretty good and then some young kids coming in and getting big outs.
"We got two hits on the day, so we're not talking about how our offense exploded. Guys know we have to do all the little things right and it was a great job of doing the little things right."
The series shifts to Los Angeles for Game Three scheduled to be played on Monday.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York, Editing by Gene Cherry)