Carlos Beltran, Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals are going to the World Series -- not even Clayton Kershaw could stop them this year.
The Cardinals stunned the Dodgers ace with a four-run third inning, Wacha again was magnificent on the mound, and St. Louis advanced to its second World Series in three seasons by roughing up Los Angeles 9-0 in Game 6 of the N.L. Championship Series on Friday.
The Cardinals will face the winner of the Boston Red Sox-Detroit Tigers series on Wednesday.
Wacha, a rookie, was selected MVP of the NLCS after pitching 132/3 scoreless innings and beating Kershaw twice. On Friday, he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, allowing a walk and striking out five.
"There's not anything you can't say about him," Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly said of Wacha. "He's just going out there and pitching his butt off right now, and as you can see he's just a pretty damn good pitcher."
The glamorous Dodgers, with the second-highest payroll in baseball at $220 million, failed to reach their first World Series since winning it all in 1988.
After losing Game 5 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals came home and turned to Wacha once again. The right-hander was even better in outpitching Kershaw for the second time this series.
Perhaps showing the Cardinals weren't stressed out by the possibility of a second consecutive NLCS meltdown -- they lost to the Giants last year despite a 3-1 lead -- Kelly had a post-national-anthem staredown with Dodgers reserve outfielder Scott Van Slyke that was broken up by a home plate umpire Greg Gibson after several minutes.
Kelly blinked first, all in good fun, but when it counted, St. Louis wouldn't budge.
Matt Carpenter sparked the third inning with a one-out double on the 11th pitch of his at-bat. Beltran singled him home, and the Cardinals quickly removed any suspense. With two outs, Yadier Molina added an RBI single, and Shane Robinson drove in two runs with a single.
The Cardinals knocked Kershaw out in a five-run fifth. Adams doubled in a run to chase the N.L. Cy Young Award favorite. Wacha drove in one with a fielder's-choice grounder, Carpenter had a sacrifice fly, a run scored on a wild pitch, and Beltran capped the scoring with an RBI single.
Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs while facing Kershaw and made a spectacular catch in right field, helping him advance to the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career.
"I'm so happy right now. We did it as a team," Beltran said. "We fought hard, we worked hard all season long and thank God we're here."
ALCS: Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder, once again struggling in a postseason series, did not endear himself to fans after a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox in Game 5 Thursday that has the Tigers on the brink of elimination.
"I can't worry about the crowd, because if they could do it, they would play, so I'm just trying to hit the ball hard," Fielder said. "It's (the booing) definitely not pleasant, but they're fans. That's what they do. They paid to come."
Fielder, who signed a nine-year, $214 million contract with the Tigers before the 2012 season, is hitting .243 with one double and no RBIs in 10 games this postseason.
The Tigers will send 21-game winner Max Scherzer to the mound Saturday to face Clay Buchholz.
A's: Right-hander Sonny Gray underwent successful surgery on his left thumb, the team announced Friday.
The surgery was performed Thursday at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital. According to the A's news release, the procedure was an internal fixation with a screw to repair the thumb fracture. Full stability of the thumb has been restored, and Gray is expected to be fully recovered in time for spring training.
Friday morning, Gray tweeted: "... surgery went very well and I'll be better then ever coming into spring training. Thanks for all the jokes yesterday."
Rays: Minor league pitcher Taylor Guerrieri has been suspended for the first 50 games next season after a second positive test for banned substances. Guerrieri was 6-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 14 starts for Class A Bowling Green this season.
A-Rod case: Hearings on the grievance to overturn New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez's 211-game suspension recessed for a month after Major League Baseball completed its direct case.
Rodriguez's legal team will call witnesses when the hearing resumes, probably the week of Nov. 18.