Cardinals’ bullpen shines as St. Louis wins Game 3, takes 2-1 NLCS lead

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Game 3 of the NLCS was supposed to be a classic duel of two great pitchers: the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo against the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter.

But it’s not often that things go as they’re expected to in Major League Baseball’s postseason.

Gallardo was hammered for four earned runs in the first inning and didn’t make it to the sixth. Carpenter yielded three runs on six hits and was also pulled after five innings. He threw just 48 of his 89 pitches for strikes. Gallardo threw 95 pitches, 47 balls.

The battle of two elite National League Central starters soon became a bullpen game. And while both relief corps held strong, the Cardinals were playing with the lead — a lead they did not relinquish.

Setup man Fernando Salas threw a scoreless sixth inning, retiring all three batters he faced. Bearded right-hander Lance Lynn then delivered a perfect seventh inning before retiring Ryan Braun to open the eighth. Left-hander Marc Rzepcynski entered to face Prince Fielder and struck him out with a sharp slider.

Then it was the Jason Motte show.

Featuring a fastball that jumps to 99 and sometimes 100 mph, Motte registered three strikeouts against the final four batters of the game, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 victory in Game 3 of the seven-game NLCS.

St. Louis carries a 2-1 series lead into Thursday’s Game 4. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.

Brewers, Jimmy Nelson avoid arbitration with one-year, $3.7 million contract

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Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the Brewers and starter Jimmy Nelson have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a one-year, $3.7 million contract. The deal includes a $50,000 bonus if he wins Comeback Player of the Year Award, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.

Nelson, 29, was entering his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. The right-hander missed the entire 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery in September 2017. He had a solid 2017 season, finishing with a 3.49 ERA and a 199/48 K/BB ratio in 1751/3 innings of work. The Brewers are hoping he can return to form this coming season.

Assuming he’s healthy and productive, he will rejoin a rotation that now includes Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davis, and an as yet undecided No. 5 starter.