- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Cardinals star Carlos Beltran left Game 3 of the NL championship series with a strained left knee, and there was an immediate impact: Replacement right fielder Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat.

Beltran exited after grounding into a double play in the first inning and Carpenter took his place in the second. St. Louis says Beltran is day to day.

Carpenter, in his first at-bat of the NLCS, followed Jon Jay’s two-out single with a home run against San Francisco ace Matt Cain in the bottom of the third to put St. Louis ahead 2-1.

Carpenter is 2 for 7 this postseason. The homer was his first extra-base hit.

The Cardinals and Giants are tied at one game each. Game 4 is Thursday night.

Beltran leads the Cardinals with a .400 postseason batting average. He has three home runs and six RBIs in the playoffs this year.

Beltran leads all players with eight extra-base hits in the 2012 playoffs. He is a career .375 hitter in the postseason, highest ever among players with a minimum of 100 at-bats.

It was not certain how Beltran got hurt. He appeared to move slowly down the line after grounding out.