ST. LOUIS -- Jon Jay was not shy in his self-criticism after a tough Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, but Game 2 offered redemption.
It also marked some postseason history.
Jay's fifth-inning sacrifice fly supplied the only run in the Cardinals' win over the Dodgers, the first time that had happened in a postseason game since St. Louis beat San Francisco in Game 6 of the 1987 NLCS. Jose Oquendo delivered the critical fly ball that day. He is now the Cards' third-base coach and was the man who sent David Freese sprinting home on Saturday.
"Yesterday was yesterday and today was a new day, so I was happy I was able to come through in that moment right there," Jay said, as the Cardinals relished their 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series (Game 3 is Monday at 7 p.m CT on TBS). "Ended up being a big run."
Sacrifice will suffice
Postseason games to end 1-0 with a sacrifice fly scoring the only run
It ended up being the only run, and it was an unearned run at that.
Freese got the Cardinals in business when he hit a high Clayton Kershaw curveball for a double leading off the bottom of the fifth inning. Matt Adams struck out, but the Cards caught a break when a pitch got by Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis during Adams' at-bat and Freese advanced to third.
"It was a ball right down the middle," Ellis said. "I just missed it."
With the count 1-1 to Jay, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny called for a suicide squeeze, but Jay fouled the pitch back. The next pitch was a low slider, and Jay managed to lift it to left field, deep enough to score Freese. Outfielder Carl Crawford's throw lacked zip and pulled Ellis up the first-base line.
Getting it done with D
Fewest hits in a postseason win
"[That was] just tough ABs all around, and that's what you've got to do," Freese said. "You're not going to get a lot of chances against the best pitcher in the league, and even though you lead off with a double, it doesn't really give you a good chance of scoring against a guy like that.
"We're fortunate. Jon Jay [had] a heck of an AB. We kind of botched the squeeze, and he battled back and hit a heck of a pitch."
It was the second straight game to turn on a fly ball. In the 10th inning of Game 1, the Dodgers had a chance to take the lead with Mark Ellis at third base and one out. Michael Young hit a fly ball to right-center field, where Jay gave way to right fielder Carlos Beltran. A strong throw home completed an inning-ending double play, and the Cards wound up winning in 13 innings.
Jay was critical of his own contributions that night. He was unsuccessful in a sacrifice bunt, then was doubled off first base on a fly ball earlier in Game 1 before letting an Ellis line drive get by him for a triple in the 10th. Jay found more frustration in Game 2 when he could not execute the suicide squeeze.
"I obviously didn't execute that play, but I had another chance, and I was just trying to get the job done any way I could," Jay said. "I was able to get something in the outfield. I was happy I was able to get that done."
The Cardinals won with only two hits -- only the eighth time in postseason history a team has won with two or fewer. The last was the 2001 Yankees, who needed only two hits for a 1-0 win over the A's in Game 3 of an American League Division Series.
"You remember the [Chris] Carpenter-[Roy] Halladay showdowns. You remember games like this," Freese said. "You don't remember the blowouts. Win or lose, you appreciate these [tight] games more. Years down the road, these are the games you talk more about."
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.