Reigning World Series champion St. Louis spoiled the first Major League Baseball playoff game in Washington since 1933 for Nationals fans while the San Francisco Giants evened their playoff series.
The Cardinals routed Washington 8-0 on Wednesday while the Giants defeated host Cincinnati 8-3 in best-of-five National League division series games. The winners will meet to determine a berth in the World Series final.
St. Louis took a 2-1 lead over the host Nationals in their series while the Giants pulled even with the Reds at 2-2, setting up a deciding game-five showdown on Thursday at Cincinnati.
Washington had not hosted a playoff game in 79 years but the Nationals, who moved from Montreal in 2004 after two prior clubs relocated from the US capital, had this year\'s winningest major league team and excited supporters.
Chris Carpenter cooled them down quickly. The St. Louis pitcher scattered seven hits and two walks over 5 2/3 scoreless innings, boosting his career playoff record to 10-2 and putting the Cardinals one triumph from advancing.
"While this is a good win, we still have some work to do," Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday said. "We still have to win one more and that will be very difficult. They have a very good team and we\'re playing in their park."
Holliday scored in the first inning on a double by Allen Craig and Pete Kozma smacked a home run to drive in three runs for the Cardinals in the second inning to give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.
Yadier Molina scored on a sacrifice fly by Daniel Descalso in the sixth and Molina was issued a bases-loaded walk in the seventh to bring home another run for the Cardinals, stretching the lead to 6-0.
Holliday added a two-run single in the eighth inning to produce the final runs.
At Cincinnati, the Giants pulled off their second road victory in as many days after being taken to the brink of elimination by dropping two home games.
Angel Pagan began the game with a home run to put San Francisco on top but the Reds pulled even at 1-1 later in the inning when Todd Frazier was walked with the bases loaded.
Gregor Blanco blasted a two-run homer in the second inning to put the Giants ahead to stay, although Ryan Ludwick answered with a solo homer for the Reds in the third to trim San Francisco\'s edge to 3-2.
Pagan sparked the Giants again in the fifth with a double to drive in Joaquin Arias from second. Pagan advanced on a Marco Scutaro sacrifice bunt and then scored on Pablo Sandoval\'s sacrifice fly out.
Cincinnati\'s Brandon Phillips drove in a run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly but Sandoval swatted a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Giants their final victory margin.
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