Cards rookie Wacha rolls on in stopping Dodgers

Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:06am EDT
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(Reuters) - When the St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series, slugger Albert Pujols was a fundamental part of their success, belting three home runs in Game Three alone.

Pujols left at the end of that season as a free agent but in baseball's circle of life, his departure allowed for the arrival of rookie hurler Michael Wacha, who might help pitch them to another title.

St. Louis used the draft choice they received as compensation for the Los Angeles Angels signing Pujols to claim Wacha, who has taken the National League by storm.

On Saturday, the 22-year-old posted a 1-0 win in St. Louis that gave the Cards a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Previously, Wacha came within one out of hurling a no-hitter in the regular season finale, and then carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning of his Game Four win over the Pirates in an elimination game in Pittsburgh.

In his last three starts, Wacha has posted a 3-0 mark, pitched 22 and two-thirds innings, given up one earned run, seven hits, five walks and struck out 26.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wacha was doing some special things for a man with 11 major league starts.

"It comes down to a young pitcher being put on the big stage in high leverage and making pitches," Matheny said.

"The way this kid has gone about it is really hard to describe. I'd like to watch it happen a few more times."   Continued...