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Thu, 11 Oct 2012 02:30 AM EDT

Carlos Beltran hit 2 home runs as the defending World Series champion Cardinals overpowered the Washington Nationals 12-4 in St. Louis to tie their best-of-5 NL Division Series at 1-1.

Beaten 3-2 by the top-seeded Washington Nationals in Sunday’s opener, the Cardinals took control with a 4-run explosion in the 2nd inning when David Freese hit the 1st double of the series before Beltran homered in the 6th and 8th.

“I wasn’t really trying to hit homers right there,” a smiling Beltran announced. “I was making an attempt to hit the ball hard somewhere. I got good pitches to hit.

“Against (Mike) Gonzalez, I got a changeup on the inside part of the plate and I was in a position to stay inside the ball. And the 2nd one was a fastball against an especially tricky lefty (Sean Burnett) for them. I was in a position to hit it good.”

Washington starter Jordan Zimmermann, who came into Game 2 with a sad 9.12 earned run average in 5 previous matchups with the Cardinals, gave up 5 runs and 7 hits over 3 innings before exiting.

Though Jaime Garcia allowed only 1 run and 2 hits in 2 innings pitched for St. Louis before making way for 18-game winner Lance Lynn, the Cardinals offense made the most important difference in front of 45,840 raucous fans at Busch Stadium.

After Zimmermann had singled on a line drive to right fielder Beltran for Ian Desmond to score in the head of the 2nd inning, St. Louis exploded in reply.

Allen Craig and Yadier Molina scored singles, Freese drove home the tying run with a double and Daniel Descalso followed with a run-scoring single.

Padded Lead

The St. Louis Cardinals padded their lead straight to 7-1 before Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche trimmed the deficit by hitting back-to-back homers in the 5th inning. Football betting lines

St. Louis reliever Joe Kelly covered the 6th inning, with substantial help from Jon Jay who pulled off a brilliant jumping catch as he slammed upwards into the center wall to save a leadoff extra-base hit by Danny Espinosa.

“It was a little bit easier to see when the shadows were gone,” said Jay, who also had 3 runs batted in at the plate. “The ball went up and I got a good beat on it. I just said, ‘Make the catch. Make the catch.’ And I came up with it.”

However, the Nationals still faced an uphill climb. Beltran piled on further misery for them when he powered a solo homer into the 3rd deck above left field in the 6th, then belted a 2-run homer on a fly ball to left-center field in the 8th.

“That’s some of the youth in the pitching staff,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson expounded.” (Zimmermann) didn’t actually make a lot of adjustments out there.

“He kind of stayed one way – hard away. (Against) a good fastball-hitting club, you have got to use both sides of the plate, and he didn’t really use his slider much early on.”

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