The 2006 National League Division Series (NLDS), the opening round of the 2006 National League playoffs, began on Tuesday, October 3, and ended on Sunday, October 8, with the champions of the three NL divisions—along with a "wild card" team—participating in two best-of-five series. They were:
- (1) New York Mets (Eastern Division champions, 97–65) vs. (4) Los Angeles Dodgers (Wild Card, 88–74); Mets win series, 3–0.
- (2) San Diego Padres (Western Division champions, 88–74) vs. (3) St. Louis Cardinals (Central Division champions, 83–78); Cardinals win series, 3–1.
The higher seed (in parentheses) had the home field advantage, which was determined by playing record. The Padres were awarded the Western Division title over the Dodgers due to their winning the season series against Los Angeles 13–5.
The Mets and the Cardinals met in the NL Championship Series, with the Cardinals becoming the National League champion and going on to face the American League champion Detroit Tigers in the 2006 World Series.
Playoff race 
The NL playoff race was highly dramatic when as many as six teams entered the final weekend of the regular season fighting for the final three playoff spots. Two of three division champions were decided on the final day of the regular season.
The New York Mets began the season with high hopes of finally ending the Atlanta Braves' string of division titles. The Mets lived up to their high expectations and roared out of the gate, taking over first place in the division on the fourth day of the season and never looking back. They won seven of their first eight games, and had built up a double-digit lead in the standings by the end of June. The Mets clinched the division on September 18, and finished twelve games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves finished third, eighteen games back. However, the Mets entered the postseason without injured ace Pedro Martínez, and learned the day before Game 1 of the Division Series that projected Game 1 starter Orlando Hernández would be lost for the whole round.
The St. Louis Cardinals' run to their third consecutive Central Division championship pales in comparison to their runs in the previous two seasons. Like the previous two seasons, the Cardinals took over the lead in the division early on, overtaking the Cincinnati Reds on June 9. It appeared as if this season would be like the previous two as the Cardinals steadily built up their lead up to as much as five and a half games and a 42–26 record on June 19. The Cardinals began interleague play by being swept by both the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers as part of an eight-game losing streak. Despite the streak, they did not relinquish the division lead. The Reds were able to tie the Cardinals in the standings on June 30 and July 1, but the Cardinals regained sole possession of first place the following day and held onto the lead for the rest of the season despite additional losing streaks of eight and seven games. The main contributor to the Cardinals' struggles was the numerous injuries to key players throughout the season to include Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, David Eckstein, Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, and Jason Isringhausen. The title appeared to be well in hand on September 19 with leads of seven games over the Reds and eight and half games over the Houston Astros with just thirteen games left to play. The Cardinals then went on a seven-game losing streak just as the Astros won seven consecutive, shrinking their lead to just a game and a half. The Cardinals were able to regain their composure by winning three of their next four and clinching on the final day of the season with an Astros loss to the Atlanta Braves.
The San Diego Padres playoff run was led by their strong pitching and saw closer Trevor Hoffman overtake Lee Smith as the all-time saves leader. This season also marked the first time in Padres history that the team went to the playoffs in consecutive years. The Padres did not clinch a playoff spot until the final weekend of the regular season and finished with an identical record as the Los Angeles Dodgers, but were awarded the Western Division title due to the Padres winning the season series with Dodgers 13–5.
The Los Angeles Dodgers' run to the playoffs was most notable for their streaky play in the second half of the season. The Dodgers started the second half by losing thirteen out of fourteen games and trailing the Padres by seven and a half games, in last place in the division, and behind eight teams in the wild card race. They immediately followed that streak by winning seventeen of their next eighteen to put them on top of the division by three and half games and to have a better record than all eight teams they had trailed in the wild card race prior to the streak. Their inconsistent play continued as they were swept by the Padres in late August as part of a four-game losing streak, only to follow that up by winning seven consecutive, then losing their next three. The Dodgers finished the season strong by winning their final seven games, clinching a playoff berth in the final weekend over the Philadelphia Phillies and finishing tied with the Padres, making them able to claim co-champions of the Western Division despite being the wild card team in the playoffs.
New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers 
New York won the series, 3–0.
|1||October 4||Los Angeles Dodgers – 5, New York Mets – 6||Shea Stadium||3:05||56,979|
|2||October 5||Los Angeles Dodgers – 1, New York Mets – 4||Shea Stadium||2:57||57,029|
|3||October 7||New York Mets – 9, Los Angeles Dodgers – 5||Dodger Stadium||3:51||56,293|
San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals 
St. Louis won the series, 3–1.
|1||October 3||St. Louis Cardinals – 5, San Diego Padres – 1||PETCO Park||2:54||43,107|
|2||October 5||St. Louis Cardinals – 2, San Diego Padres – 0||PetCo Park||2:54||43,463|
|3||October 7||San Diego Padres – 3, St. Louis Cardinals – 1||Busch Stadium (III)||3:33||46,634|
|4||October 8||San Diego Padres – 2, St. Louis Cardinals – 6||Busch Stadium (III)||2:44||46,476|
New York vs. Los Angeles 
The series seemed over for the Mets before it even started, first by losing ace Pedro Martínez for the postseason and then losing probable Game 1 starter Orlando Hernández. Despite having a potent offense, many people didn't seem to give the Mets too much of a chance without a great starting rotation. In fact, the Mets pitching helped keep the two bats at the top of the Dodgers order from doing damage. Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton went 3 for 24 (.125) in the series combined. In the regular season, they hit .300 and stole 59 bases combined. Thanks to mixed efforts by everyone on the Mets, they advanced to the 2006 National League Championship Series. Dodgers second baseman Jeff Kent had eight hits in the three-game series. Only Fernando Viña had more hits in a series that lasted three games.
Game 1, October 4 
|WP: Guillermo Mota (1–0) LP: Brad Penny (0–1) Sv: Billy Wagner (1)
NYM: Carlos Delgado (1), Cliff Floyd (1)
The game started off with Mets rookie starter John Maine on the mound after the Mets received devastating news about Orlando Hernández possibly missing the rest of the postseason. He kept the Mets in the game with only one earned run in 4 1⁄3 innings pitched. In the second inning, a strange play occurred at home plate. With runners on first and second and nobody out, catcher Russell Martin hit a line drive all the way to the wall in right field. Jeff Kent tried to tag up from second base in the event that right fielder Shawn Green caught the ball. Instead, the ball sailed over his head. Both Kent and J. D. Drew raced around the bases towards the plate. Green threw to cut-off man José Valentín, who relayed to Paul Lo Duca at the plate. Lo Duca tagged out Kent. Drew, trying to score in desperation, was also tagged out at the plate. Lo Duca almost didn't see Drew in time to slap the tag on. The Dodgers would score a run later in the inning, but Carlos Delgado and Cliff Floyd hit home runs in the fourth. Nomar Garciaparra tied the game at four with a two-RBI double in the top of the seventh. Delgado and David Wright, however, gave the Mets the lead for good in the bottom of the seventh with RBI hits off Brad Penny (who was relieving Derek Lowe), with closer Billy Wagner nailing down the save.
Game 2, October 5 
|WP: Tom Glavine (1–0) LP: Hong-Chih Kuo (0–1) Sv: Billy Wagner (2)
LAD: Wilson Betemit (1)
In a game where the Mets were expected to struggle, they came through with a big win. Dodgers rookie Hong-Chih Kuo was expected to beat the Mets, who have a lineup full of left-handed hitters (or at least, hit better left-handed). Instead, the lefty Kuo was up against Tom Glavine, who earned the win, with the Mets offense manufacturing runs. In the bottom of the third, outfielder Endy Chávez hit a bunt single to lead off the inning. That led to a José Reyes RBI ground out. In the sixth, Paul Lo Duca hit a sacrifice fly to give the Mets a 2–0 lead. In the seventh, after pinch-hitter Julio Franco hit into a fielder's choice, driving in a run, Reyes drove in another run with an RBI single. Wilson Betemit hit a home run for the Dodgers but lost 4–1. The Dodgers were hit with more bad news. Nomar Garciaparra was lost after a leg injury that would keep him off the field except for pinch-hitting duties.
Game 3, October 7 
|WP: Pedro Feliciano (1–0) LP: Jonathan Broxton (0–1)
LAD: Jeff Kent (1)
In Los Angeles the Mets jumped out on Dodgers veteran starter Greg Maddux for three runs in the first inning, and added another in the third. The Dodgers came back in the fourth inning with a bases-loaded double by rookie first baseman James Loney off Mets starter Steve Trachsel for two runs to make the score 4–2. Loney was starting in place of the injured Nomar Garciaparra. In the fifth, Jeff Kent hit a two-run home run off reliever Darren Oliver to tie the game at four. The Dodgers would add another run in the inning as Loney drew a bases-loaded walk. But the Mets proved too relentless. Trailing 5–4 in the sixth, Shawn Green started off with a leadoff double. After José Valentín popped out on the infield, pinch hitter Michael Tucker drew a walk. Three consecutive bloop hits from José Reyes, Paul Lo Duca, and Carlos Beltrán, plated three Met runs, making the score 7–5. Having taken the lead, the Mets never looked back, adding two more runs in the eighth, to take a 9–5 lead. Former Dodgers Green and Lo Duca finished with two RBI each and Pedro Feliciano earned the win. This was the first time that the Mets swept a postseason series since the 1969 NLCS.
Composite box 
|New York Mets||3||0||2||2||1||7||2||2||0||19||30||3|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||0||1||0||2||3||0||3||1||1||11||32||4|
|Total attendance: 170,301 Average attendance: 56,767|
San Diego vs. St. Louis 
Game 1, October 3 
|WP: Chris Carpenter (1–0) LP: Jake Peavy (0–1)
STL: Albert Pujols (1)
In a pitching rematch of Game 1 of the 2005 NLDS, Chris Carpenter and Jake Peavy both started strong through three innings and it appeared that the pitcher’s duel that was expected the previous year would occur this time around. That changed in the fourth inning when Albert Pujols hit a two-run home run 422 feet (129 m) into one of the deepest parts of Petco Park. Peavy would give up an additional run in the fourth, as well as allowing a run in the fifth and sixth inning before being pulled in the sixth. Carpenter on the other hand continued his strong pitching performance as he pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just one run to cross the plate. The Cardinal bullpen, which had been shaky down the stretch, pitched the final 2 2⁄3 innings of the game allowing just one hit. The Cardinals lead the best-of-five series one game to none.
Game 2, October 5 
|WP: Jeff Weaver (1–0) LP: David Wells (0–1) Sv: Adam Wainwright (1)|
Cardinal starter Jeff Weaver and four relievers combined on a four-hitter to shut out the Padres 2–0. The only runs scored in the game came in the fourth, as Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds had back-to-back RBI singles.
Padres starter David Wells pitched well in a losing effort, going five innings and allowing two runs.
Game 3, October 7 
|WP: Chris Young (1–0) LP: Jeff Suppan (0–1) Sv: Trevor Hoffman (1)
STL: So Taguchi (1)
Game 3 ended the Padres' eight-game winless streak against the Cardinals in the postseason and gave them their first postseason win since Game 6 of the 1998 NLCS. However, they left fourteen runners on base.
This was also the last playoff game to be televised by the ESPN family of networks, at least until 2013.
Game 4, October 8 
|WP: Chris Carpenter (2–0) LP: Woody Williams (0–1)|
After losing Game 3, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa decided to use Carpenter to start Game 4 in hopes of closing out the Series at home. Carpenter started off shakily, allowing two runs (including a bases-loaded walk) in the first inning, but he settled down and pitched six scoreless innings before being pulled in the eighth.
St. Louis answered with two runs in the bottom of the first to tie the score, and then scored four more unanswered runs in the sixth to take a 6–2 lead, with RBIs from Juan Encarnacion, Scott Spiezio, Chris Carpenter, and David Eckstein. Rookie pitcher Adam Wainwright pitched a scoreless ninth to close out the Series and allow the Cardinals to advance to the NLCS for the third consecutive year.
The offensive woes that plagued the Padres in the first three games continued for the Padres in Game 4. The team failed to score after the first, and went a combined 2-for-32 with runners in scoring position in the Series.
It was the final Division Series game televised by Fox, at least for the foreseeable future.
Composite box 
|St. Louis Cardinals||2||0||0||5||1||5||0||1||0||14||34||2|
|San Diego Padres||2||0||0||3||0||1||0||0||0||6||29||1|
|Total attendance: 179,680 Average attendance: 44,920|
Series quotes 
Payoff pitch again...there he goes...and there it goes! To deep left center field! Back, back, back, gone! Albert Pujols has done it again, a two-run shot here in the fourth inning and the Cardinals have struck first 2–0.
3–2 to Martinez...in the air down the right field line. Green, in the corner, he's got room...and the New York Mets, for the first time since 2000, will advance to the National League Championship Series, they have swept the Dodgers, three games to none.
Now it's three and two, Loney running, Wagner deals: Swing and a fly ball, right field, towards the line...Green over...in foul ground, makes the catch! Put it in the books! The Mets are gonna play for the pennant! They have swept the Dodgers in the National League Division Series, winning three straight. They blew a four-run lead early, the Dodgers came back to take a 5–4 lead, but the Mets stormed back, they win it 9–5 and now they are all jumping up and down right in front of second base!
2–2 pitch...breaking ball, on the ground to Pujols, and for the third straight year the St. Louis Cardinals advance to the National League Championship Series.
Swing and a slow roller to the Cardinal first baseman, he takes care of it unassisted, and the Redbirds are headin' for Gotham!—Cardinal broadcaster Mike Shannon calls the last out of the NLDS
- "2006 NLDS - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - Los Angeles Dodgers vs. New York Mets - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres - Game 1". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Diego Padres - Game 2". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals - Game 3". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- "2006 NLDS - San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals - Game 4". Retrosheet. Retrieved 2009-09-13.
- Major League Baseball, Carpenter, Pujols Power Cards
A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.