The Los Angeles Dodgers brushed aside the St Louis Cardinals 5-1 to sweep their National League division series in three games thanks to some aggressive batting from Manny Ramirez.
|Ramirez hits an RBI single as the Cardinals go out of the race for the World Series [GALLO/GETTY]
Right hander Vicente Padilla held the light-hitting Cardinals to four hits and no runs over seven innings and Ramirez drove in two runs with three hits as the Dodgers advanced to the league championship against the winner of the Philadelphia Phillies-Colorado Rockies series.
The Phillies and Rockies are tied 1-1 in their best of five playoff with Saturday's scheduled Game Three called off due to snow in Denver.
Ramirez staked Los Angeles to a 1-0 lead with a first-inning double to deep centre, then drove in the Dodgers' final run with a single in the seventh.
"I was just trying to be aggressive," Ramirez said.
"With the key hit that I got (his double), I think that set the tone."
Andre Ethier added two more runs with a third-inning homer. The right-fielder also had a double and triple and scored twice as he continued his strong hitting.
'Beaten to the punch'
"From the get-go, they beat us to the punch all night," St Louis manager Tony La Russa said.
Padilla, acquired by Los Angeles in August, retired 17 of 18 batters at one point.
He struck out four and walked one as his mother, who travelled to the game from Nicaragua, looked on.
"I've know Padilla for a long time," said Ramirez. "I know he is a big-time pitcher."
The West Division champion Dodgers wrapped Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro for seven hits and four runs in four innings.
The win marked the second successive season the Dodgers have swept their opening playoff season. Last year they beat the Cubs in three games.
They start their best-of-seven NL championship series on Thursday.
Philadelphia and Colorado will resume their series on Sunday after the Coors Field venue was blanketed by a snowstorm that began on Friday night and the temperature on Saturday afternoon hovered around -4C.
The American League division series also resume on Sunday with the New York Yankees at Minnesota and the Los Angeles Angels at Boston.
Both the Yankees and Angels hold 2-0 leads.