Beltran Powers Cards to Victory, Dodgers Win as NL Playoffs Open

Carlos Beltran’s 15th postseason home run led the host St. Louis Cardinals to a 9-1 defeat of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Los Angeles Dodgers won 6-1 in Atlanta as the two National League division series opened.

Beltran’s three-run homer ignited a seven-run third inning for the Cardinals. Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 for the Dodgers in their win against the Braves.

Beltran, 36, tied Babe Ruth for eighth on the career postseason list with 15 home runs. Beltran’s postseason slugging percentage of .783 is the highest in Major League Baseball history.

“I don’t think about it, I’m fortunate to play in the postseason four times in my career,” said Beltran, who also was in the playoffs in 2004 with the Houston Astros, 2006 with the New York Mets and last year with the Cardinals.

Game 2 in the two NL best-of-five series are set for today in St. Louis and Atlanta. The two AL division series also begin today, with Detroit at Oakland and Tampa Bay at Boston.

In St. Louis, the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright retired the first 11 batters and struck out nine while allowing one run on three hits in seven innings. Pirates starter A.J. Burnett took the loss, allowing seven runs while getting six outs.

Jon Jay had a bases-loaded walk, David Freese added a two-run single and the seventh St. Louis run in the third scored on a throwing error.

Pedro Alvarez hit a solo homer for the Pirates in the fifth. The Cardinals answered with runs in the fifth and sixth innings, both on Pirates errors.

In Atlanta, Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer as the Dodgers opened a 5-0 lead by the fourth inning. A.J. Ellis and Hanley Ramirez had run-scoring doubles for Los Angeles.

‘Best Pitcher’

Kershaw, 25, who won the Cy Young Award as the NL’s best pitcher in 2011 and has had the league’s best earned run average in each of the last three seasons, allowed one run on three hits in seven innings.

Gonzalez’s home run made it 4-0 in the third inning, and Kershaw never let the Braves get close.

“Getting him a four-run lead made us real comfortable,” Gonzalez said in a televised on-field interview. “He’s the best pitcher in baseball, and he showed that tonight.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Gloster in San Francisco at rgloster@bloomberg.net

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