ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals tagged Clayton Kershaw in the seventh inning for the second straight time, riding Matt Adams' go-ahead, three-run homer to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday and a fourth straight trip to the NL Championship Series.
Following their 3-1 win in the best-of-five series, the Cardinals await San Francisco or Washington with their rotation well-rested for the NLCS, which starts Saturday.
They would open at home against the Giants or at the Nationals.
At AT&T Park in San Francisco, fans broke into cheers when the rival Dodgers were eliminated.
Trevor Rosenthal allowed two runners in the ninth before getting Carl Crawford on a game-ending groundout for his third save of the series.
Kershaw allowed one homer to left-handed hitters while going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA in the regular season. He gave up two to the Cardinals, with Matt Carpenter connecting in the opener. The left-handed ace is 0-3 with a 9.72 ERA in his last three postseason appearances, including St. Louis' clinching Game 6 victory in the NLCS last year.
Kershaw pitched on three days' rest for the second time in his career. He was dominant into the seventh, as he was in Game 1, but again started the inning with three straight hits.
The third hit Tuesday came when Adams drove a curveball into the right-center bullpen to put St. Louis up 3-2. Adams thrust his hands over his head in the batter's box then jumped several times as he ran down the first base line. A stunned Kershaw bent over on the mound, head hung and hands on his knees.
The likely NL Cy Young Award winner fell to 1-5 with a 5.12 ERA in 11 postseason appearances.
Reliever Marco Gonzales earned his second win of the series, after getting treated for a nosebleed. The rookie lefty got Adrian Gonzalez on a groundout to end the seventh and strand two runners.
Pat Neshek worked a perfect eighth for the second straight game and Rosenthal pitched the ninth for a second straight day, receiving two visits to the mound from catcher Yadier Molina and one from the pitching coach after a shaky start to the inning.
Kershaw had yielded only one hit through six innings and struck out nine, including three in a row in the sixth.
But Matt Holliday opened the seventh with a sharp single up the middle off second baseman Dee Gordon's glove, Jhonny Peralta lined another single before Adams homered off a left-hander for the first time since July 7.
The Cardinals, who had an NL low 105 homers this season, hit five homers against lefties in this series. They had just eight in the regular season.