WASHINGTON -- With its breadth of postseason experience, it was expected that the heart of the Cardinals' lineup would do damage this October. And yet it's been the bottom of the order that's given the club some much-needed depth and given Nationals pitchers fits.
Players such as David Freese (last year's National League Championship Series and World Series MVP) and Carlos Beltran (with the all-time best home run/at-bat ratio of 7.54 and a career .367 postseason average) have supreme playoff pedigrees.
But with the help of players like Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso at the bottom, the heart of the order has been able to thrive. Even Chris Carpenter had two hits Wednesday from the No. 9 spot.
"You can't beat having eight guys in that lineup -- nine yesterday, including Carp -- who were putting tough at-bats together," Cards manager Mike Matheny said. "There's no room to breathe."
St. Louis has kept its foot on the gas pedal this series, dominating nearly throughout. The rookie Kozma, who has started in all four playoff games at shortstop, hit a key three-run homer to aid the Cardinals' blowout on Wednesday. Descalso homered in Game 2, and he also tacked on an RBI single in that rout. He's also had a few potential homers snagged by fine defensive efforts.
"Daniel and Pete are both really good ballplayers, and they have hit pretty good throughout their career," said first baseman Allen Craig. "So when they're doing what they can do at the bottom of the lineup, it definitely helps the guys out in the middle of the lineup."