ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Matt Adams belted a three-run homer off Clayton Kershaw to power the St. Louis Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday to reach the NL Championship Series for a fourth successive season.
The game-winning blast in another magical seventh inning for St. Louis erased a 2-0 deficit, sealing the best-of-five Division Series 3-1.
"We never give up," said Adams, who skipped and danced his way toward first base after connecting on a hanging curve ball from a tiring Kershaw, who was pitching on three days' rest.
"No matter how many runs we’re down or what the series lead is, we’re always going to come out and play hard and go after it."
The shot over the right field wall sent the Busch Stadium crowd and the Cardinals' dugout into a frenzy.
"I don’t think I touched the ground the whole way around," said Adams, a beefy, left-handed hitting first baseman.
It was dreary deja vu for Kershaw, the overwhelming favorite to win his third Cy Young award in four seasons as the National League's top pitcher.
Kershaw, who was 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, had stymied the Cards on one hit and struck out nine as he entered the seventh with a 2-0 lead after the Dodgers scored two in the sixth to snap a scoreless tie.
He looked poised for sweet redemption following a Game One implosion in which he squandered a 6-2 lead in an eight-run seventh by St. Louis.
Matt Holliday led off the frame with a grounder up the middle that glanced off second baseman Dee Gordon’s glove.
Jhonny Peralta followed with a soft line drive that grazed the tip of shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s glove for another single.
The decibel level climbed ever higher in anticipation of more seventh-inning heroics and Adams delivered -- jumping on a hanging curve ball for a towering home run.
Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, whose three-run double off Kershaw was a key blow in Game One, praised Kershaw.
"I’ve got to tip my cap to Clayton," said Carpenter. "With three days' rest, the stuff that he had today was nothing short of incredible. He was as good as I’ve ever seen him.
"We knew at some point fatigue was going to hit, and were able to hit a couple of singles and he left the one pitch up to Matt and he hit it out of the park."
The game-winner gave St. Louis a remarkable 13 runs scored in the seventh inning in the series against five runs scored by them in all other innings combined.
Reliever Marco Gonzales got the win in relief of starter Shelby Miller, while Trevor Rosenthal notched the save.
The Central Division champion Cardinals will face either the Washington Nationals or the San Francisco Giants in the best-of-seven NLCS with the winner advancing to the World Series.
Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue / Ian Ransom