It was World Series or bust and bust won out.
The Dodgers, baseball's richest team, did not. Clayton Kershaw, baseball's best pitcher, did not.
Instead they were filled with all sorts of the wrong emotions after their season came to an end Tuesday in St. Louis, the Cardinals stunning Kershaw and the Dodgers -- again -- with a 3-2 victory at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals won the division series three games to one and will advance to the National League Championship Series. The Dodgers lost and will head into an off-season haunted by what they did not do.
Pitching on three days rest, Kershaw was absolutely brilliant through six innings, holding the Cardinals scoreless on one hit. After melting down in the series opener, Kershaw looked determined and the Cardinals almost overmatched.
Kershaw had thrown 94 pitches after six innings and led 2-0. Pitching on short rest, logically he comes out there.
But the deep black hole to this Dodgers team all season was middle relief. So out went Kershaw to start the seventh, and down went the season. Kershaw, again, done in by the seventh inning.
The Cardinals opened the inning when Matt Holliday singled off the glove of second baseman Dee Gordon and Jhonny Peralta lined a single off the tip of Hanley Ramirez' glove.
That brought up the left-handed hitting Matt Adams who got all of a Kershaw curveball, sending his 102nd pitch over the right-field wall and into the Cardinals' bullpen for the 3-2 lead.
Kershaw put hands on knees and bent over, seemingly try to shake the disbelief. Eight pitches had changed everything.
Kershaw, who is expected to be named both the National League Cy Young and MVP winner in the coming weeks, now will have to head into the winter knowing that for the second consecutive time the Dodgers' season ended with him on the mound.
The Cardinals could do nothing with him for six innings, but the Dodgers were also being held down by the Cardinals' Shelby Miller.
The St. Louis right-hander matched Kershaw and held the Dodgers scoreless through five innings. The Dodgers finally scratched a pair of runs against him in the sixth.
Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez singled to put runners on the corners. Crawford scored the game's first run when Matt Kemp bounced into a double play. After Ramirez was hit by a pitch, Andre Ethier walked.
The Cards went to reliever Seth Maness, but Juan Uribe greeted him with a run-scoring single that sent Ethier to third.
Ethier, however, was picked off third by catcher Yadier Molina.
A Maness pitch initially got away from Molina, and after taking a couple steps toward home, Ethier saw Molina had recovered and went back to third. Ethier was originally ruled safe, but the Cardinals challenged the call and it was overturned.
In his six-plus innings, Kershaw allowed the three runs on four hits. He struck out nine and walked two. He dominated the Cardinals until the seventh, but that's the inning he will carry with him into the off-season. He deserved better, but that's what he was left with.
The Cardinals hit five home runs in the four games, all off left-handed pitchers. They will meet the winner of the Giants-Nationals division series in the NLCS.