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Cardinals crush the Brewers, 12-6, to win National League title

Reporting from Milwaukee -- The National League Championship Series was billed as a Battle of the Beers, but it became the Battle of the Bullpens and, in the end, Battle of the Biceps.

By the time Sunday’s Game 6 slugfest had ended, the Cardinals were 12-6 winners over the Milwaukee Brewers and NL champions for the ninth time since World War II and third time in the 16-year reign of Manager Tony La Russa.

“This is in the improbable, incredible, overwhelming [category],” said La Russa, whose team was 81/2 games back in the wild-card race Sept. 1. “Coming from that far back is historic, and winning on the road in Philadelphia [in a division series] and against these guys [in Milwaukee].”

The Cardinals will meet the Texas Rangers, who scored 15 runs in eliminating the Detroit Tigers on Saturday and averaged more than six runs per game in the American League Championship Series, Wednesday in St. Louis.

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The Cardinals averaged more than seven runs in the six NLCS games.

“The Rangers are a scary team,” said David Freese, the most valuable player of the series who drove in three first-inning runs Sunday with his third home run. “You look at their lineup and [pitching] staff, it’s going to be a battle.

“We’re a team that matches up with them a little bit. I’ve definitely been watching the ALCS. That’s a dynamite team.”

Freese, the kid from St. Louis, was 12 for 22 with 10 runs batted in.

“It means the world to me,” said Freese, probably not realizing that it really means the World Series.

The Central Division-winning Brewers go home, ready to ponder an off-season that includes whether they can afford to keep Prince Fielder, who sure did his future salary little help with a four-for-20 series and three RBIs.

“I’m not thinking about that quite yet,” Fielder said. “I’m just trying to say goodbye to my teammates … trying to keep my throat clear.”

So exactly how did the Brewers and Cardinals finish their 24th game played since April?

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Well, with a bang.

By the time the third inning was over, the Cardinals led, 9-4, each team had hit three home runs and five pitchers had been to the mound, three of them Brewers.

By the end of the fifth, the Cardinals led, 11-6, and seven pitchers had worked. Oh, and the Brewers had been charged with three errors in one inning, two of them on one play by Jerry Hairston Jr.

Brewers starter Shaun Marcum lasted only one inning after giving up four runs, and the Cardinals’ Edwain Jackson made it through only two innings.

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Only one of 12 starters — Milwaukee’s Randy Wolf — lasted seven innings in the series.

On Sunday, the Cardinals’ bullpen logged seven innings and again distinguished itself by giving up only one run.

“We couldn’t touch their bullpen,” Manager Ron Roenicke said. “St. Louis is hot. Did they do anything wrong in the series? They’re a good team and they outplayed us.”

dvandyck@tribune.com


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