Just fun to watch him do his thing, whether it's offensively, the big throw he made defensively. —Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on Carlos Beltran
ST. LOUIS — Carlos Beltran capped his latest scintillating postseason performance with an RBI single in the 13th inning early Saturday that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals over the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 in the NL championship series opener.
Beltran hit a tying, two-run double in the third inning, then threw out a runner at the plate from right field in the 10th to keep it even.
Well past midnight at Busch Stadium, Beltran singled into the right-field corner with one out against Kenley Jansen in the 13th to finish a game that took 4 hours, 47 minutes.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon.
Beltran has 16 home runs, 12 doubles and 34 RBIs in 40 career postseason games, and is hitting .345. The eight-time All-Star is hoping this year ends with his first trip to the World Series.
"Just fun to watch him do his thing, whether it's offensively, the big throw he made defensively," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
It was the longest postseason game for the Dodgers since the 1916 World Series, when Babe Ruth pitched all 14 innings to lead the Boston Red Sox past Brooklyn.
This one also tied for the longest series opener in postseason history, according to STATS. Boston and Cleveland played 13 innings in their 1995 AL division series, with the Indians winning 5-4.
"You work so hard in the offseason, spring training and regular season to get to this point and we're fortunate to be here," Beltran said.
"That's a preview. Today was a good game and that's what it's all about. They didn't want to lose and we didn't want to lose," he said.
Pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso singled with one out in the 13th off rookie Chris Withrow and Matt Carpenter walked. Jansen, usually the Dodgers' closer, relieved and Beltran won it with his hit on a 3-1 count.
Winning pitcher Lance Lynn strengthened his case for a possible Game 4 start with two scoreless innings. Withrow took the loss.
"There were a lot of big outs that both teams got tonight," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "If the rest of the series is like this game, it should be a pretty good one."
The Dodgers had two on in the ninth, 10th and 11th and came up empty. They stranded 11 overall while going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. They averaged 6 1-2 runs and batted .333, best ever in an NL postseason series, while taking a four-game division series from the Braves.
Neither team had much time to exhale before the next game, scheduled to start 14 1-2 hours after Descalso crossed the plate. It features a marquee pitching matchup — major league ERA leader Clayton Kershaw vs. Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha, who's flirted with no-hitters his last two starts.
Dodgers starter Zack Greinke struck out 10 in eight innings, allowing just four hits. Cardinals starter Joe Kelly left after the sixth with the score 2-all.
Mark Ellis tripled with one out in the Dodgers 10th. After Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked, Michael Young followed with a fly ball to shallow right field that Beltran caught.
Beltran made a strong, one-hop throw home and Ellis crashed into Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina.
Molina held the ball, but it was hard to tell whether he actually tagged Ellis. On such plays, however, umpires almost always give the benefit to the catcher and call the runner out.
The Dodgers put runners at first and second with two outs in the 11th against John Axford. Pinch-hitter Nick Punto, who played for the Cardinals on their 2011 World Series championship team, struck to end the inning.
Young, in the game after cleanup man Adrian Gonzalez was pulled for a pinch-runner in the eighth, got another chance in 12th. With runners on first and second, he grounded into an inning-ending double play against Lynn.
Beltran's double in the third barely eluded center fielder Andre Ethier.
Slowed by a sore ankle, Ethier made his first start in this postseason. He appeared to mistime his jump just a bit as he banged into the padded wall.
Beltran's two-run double in the third was the only damage against Greinke. He fanned Carpenter, Matt Adams and Pete Kozma twice each and struck out the side in the fifth.
The teams are postseason foes for the first time since a Dodgers sweep in their 2009 division series. It's their first NLCS matchup since 1985, when the Cardinals won in six games behind game-breaking homers from Ozzie Smith and Jack Clark off Tom Niedenfuer.
Kelly left on his own terms after six innings in a 2-all tie, hurt only by Juan Uribe's two-run single in the third. Counting multiple efforts, the Cardinals had five relievers warm but the Dodgers were 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Kelly got all three outs on strikeouts in the first. The Dodgers left runners on second and third when Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig fanned.
Kershaw started the division series clincher against Atlanta on three days' rest Monday and will be on regular rest in Game 2. The left-hander said the media made a big deal of short rest, but not he nor Mattingly.
The pregame festivities began with a nod to tradition, with eight Clydesdales pulling a Budweiser beer wagon that made two laps around the warning track at Busch Stadium. For a long time, the Cardinals were owned by Anheuser-Busch. The ceremony ended with Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright and injured closer Jason Motte throwing simultaneous first pitches.
Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire got a nice hand when he lined up along the third base line during introductions. So did two other former Cardinals, utility men Skip Schumaker and Punto. There was some booing for Greinke, who referred to Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter as a "phony" when Greinke was with the Brewers.
NOTES: Miss Missouri, Shelby Ringdahl, sang the national anthem. ... Carpenter, who entered in a 1-for-29 slump, walked and scored on Beltran's double. ... Greinke's career best is 15 strikeouts for the Royals on Aug. 25, 2009, against Cleveland. ... It was the longest NLCS game since the New York Mets beat Atlanta 4-3 in 15 innings on Robin Ventura's "grand slam-single" in 1999.