(Reuters) - The St Louis Cardinals moved to the brink of advancing to the National League Championship Series with a 3-1 home victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Three of their division series on Monday.
Kolten Wong belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off Scott Elbert to break a 1-1 tie and the Dodgers left two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth as the Cards edged 2-1 ahead in the best-of-five series. "I was just trying to see something I knew I could drive," second baseman Wong told reporters.
"I had never faced that guy before but doing my study I knew he had a sinker. I knew he was a tough pitcher so I just wanted to hit something in the air, something deep enough where we could score."
Cardinals starter John Lackey worked seven innings for the win, allowing just one run on five hits and a walk with eight strikeouts.
Earlier, leftie Matt Carpenter hit a solo homer in the third to open the scoring for the Cardinals, his third straight post-season game with a home run, before Hanley Ramirez doubled home Yasiel Puig in the sixth to tie the contest.
"We knew the Cardinals were a team with some good left-hand hitters and we wanted to be able to neutralize them," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.
"Obviously to this point, we have not been able to. Carpenter has continued to pound on us."
St Louis, who knocked the Dodgers out of the playoffs last season before falling to the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, can advance with a Game Four victory at home on Tuesday.
Los Angeles will look to tie the series with Game One losing starter Clayton Kershaw, regarded as Major League Baseball's best pitcher, despite their ace bleeding eight earned runs in the series opener.
"This club has been a club that has bounced back when we have had any kind of trouble," Mattingly told reporters.
"We lost a tough game but for us it is a matter of winning one game with Clayton Kershaw on the mound and we feel pretty good about that.
"We got to be ready to go."
The winner of the series will meet either the San Francisco Giants or Washington Nationals in the best-of-seven NLCS. The Giants lead that division series 2-1 after the Nationals staved off elimination with a 4-1 win on Monday.
Writing by Ben Everill in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien