Sports

Cardinals Rout Nationals, 12-4

(Credit: Jamie Squire/GETTY IMAGES)

(Credit: Jamie Squire/GETTY IMAGES)

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Carlos Beltran hit the last two of the Cardinals’ four homers and St. Louis chased an ineffective Jordan Zimmermann early in a 12-4 rout of the Washington Nationals on Monday that tied their NL division series at one game apiece.

Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso also went deep to help the defending World Series champions build a big lead that compensated for a two-inning start from Jaime Garcia. Craig hit his fifth career postseason homer and scored three times.

Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche hit consecutive homers in the fifth for the Nationals, who head home for the remainder of the best-of-five series. But the NL East champions are without All-Star ace Stephen Strasburg, shut down for the rest of the season early last month to protect his surgically repaired arm.

Game 3 is Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park. Edwin Jackson starts for Washington against longtime Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter, who made only three starts during the regular season because of injury.

“Today, for us, was a must-win game,” Beltran said.

The Cardinals seem to live for those. They lost the division series and NL championship series openers last fall, then finished strong in the World Series after spotting Texas a 3-2 lead.

So, they’re on familiar ground.

There were no lineup changes in Game 2 of the division series, just a lot more clutch hitting from players accustomed to October pressure.

Beltran homered twice in the postseason for the third time in his career, connecting in the sixth off Mike Gonzalez and eighth off Sean Burnett. Jon Jay had two hits and three RBIs, plus an outstanding catch at the center-field wall to deprive Danny Espinosa of extra bases in the sixth.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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