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10/03/11 2:25 AM ET

Jay clutch -- and against Lee, no less

PHILADELPHIA -- The last thing Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay wanted to do on Sunday was see a lot of Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.

So Jay swung the bat early and often, seeing a meager six pitches during his three at-bats against Lee in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.

Two of those swings resulted in critical hits for the Cardinals, who erased an early four-run deficit to earn a 5-4 victory over the Phillies and tie the series at 1.

"Cliff is a guy who is always going to throw a lot of strikes, so when you go up there, you want to be as aggressive with him as you can," Jay said.

Jay, a left-handed hitter, had an RBI single off Lee as part of a three-run fourth inning that got the Cardinals back in the game, cutting the deficit to one.

Two innings later and with two outs, Jay again got to Lee, this time delivering an RBI single that tied the score.

"I think they were both cutters he left out over the plate," Jay said.

The scene now shifts to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for Game 3 on Tuesday on TBS at 4 p.m. CT and with the momentum firmly on the side of the Cardinals, who roughed up Lee to the tune of 12 hits and five runs in six-plus innings.

The contributions offensively were many, as the Cardinals had 13 hits, two from Jay, the No. 8 hitter, who was 1-for-7 in his short career against Lee before Sunday.

But Jay, who took over as St. Louis' primary center fielder after the Cardinals traded outfielder Colby Rasmus to the Blue Jays in July, did not fear Lee or any other left-handed pitcher, for that matter, as he hit .287 against lefties in the regular season.

"For me, I always try to hang in there against them [lefties]," he said. "I try to work hard and do extra work. When I get to the plate, I try to keep it simple and get a pitch to hit."

The contributions of Jay and right fielder Allen Craig -- he had a triple in four at-bats and scored a run -- weren't lost on teammate Lance Berkman.

"[Jay's] a great hitter, and our young guys aren't just great hitters, but they're showing great poise," Berkman said.

Jay didn't just throw his bat into Sunday's victory, but his body as well, as he was thrown out at the plate by left fielder Raul Ibanez trying to score in the fourth inning on Rafael Furcal's single.

Jay collided hard with Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz, who tumbled backward but managed to hold onto the ball for the final out of the inning.

"At that point in the game and with two outs, you've got to take your chance," Jay said.

He did on Sunday, especially with the bat, and it paid off for the Cardinals, who looked buried early after the Phillies raced out to a 4-0 lead after two innings.

"It's definitely not somewhere you want to be, but it's the playoffs," Jay said. "We're not going to quit, and that's something the team has done all year.

"We went out there, we played hard, we fought hard, and we came back and we were able to win tonight."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.