LOS ANGELES -- The Cardinals know full well what to expect when they enter what figures to be a raucous Dodger Stadium on Monday for Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
It was only four years ago, after all, that the Cards headed to Los Angeles as one of the postseason favorites, primed with a pair of aces -- Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright -- to open the NL Division Series.
But the Dodgers defended their home turf, winning both games en route to a sweep. They pounded Carpenter in the opener and rallied in the ninth for a walk-off victory in Game 2, aided by a pivotal Matt Holliday error.
"It was at that time that I understood what playoff baseball is like," said Cardinals third baseman David Freese, a reserve on the 2009 squad. "I think it helped me to understand how special this opportunity is. Tomorrow, when Carl Crawford walks out, it's going to be absolutely insane. It's going to be out of control."
Wainwright, who tamed the hostile crowd and tossed eight innings of one-run ball in the 2009 series, is hoping for a similar atmosphere during his start Monday night, saying, "the louder the better -- that plays right into my hands."
"Thinking back [to 2009], I know it's going to be rocking tomorrow," Wainwright said. "I don't know how many people are here, but it's a lot of fans, bigger than most stadiums, I think, and very loud. I love that though."
Playoff baseball in Los Angeles has not been kind to the Cardinals in the past. The Dodgers have won six of eight against St. Louis at Chavez Ravine, even though the Cards advanced in the other two postseason meetings between the two clubs.
Catcher Yadier Molina, who went 2-for-9 in Los Angeles during the 2009 NLDS, said he chooses not to remember much of what happened then. But he was quick to note just how much he enjoys playing in Los Angeles.
"Every time you play here against the Dodgers, it's good," Molina said. "The people, the history here is amazing. I love playing here."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. William Boor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.