It took nearly seven hours, but it's not likely that the St. Louis Cardinals are complaining, as they beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in Game 3 and took a two-games-to-one lead in the National League Championship Series.
Game 3 took that long, of course, because of a rain delay that lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours. As events transpired, though, there was little need to resume play; when the rains game, there were two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and the Cardinals led 3-1 ... and that was still the score when the game ended.
Kyle Lohse started for the Cardinals, Matt Cain for the Giants. The Giants got to Lohse first. In the top of the third, Angel Pagan led off with a single, then moved to third when Marco Scutaro -- who was questionable, physically, Wednesday morning -- whacked a double. The Giants seemed well-positioned for a big inning, and Pablo Sandoval did drive in a run with a ground-out. But after Buster Posey drew an intentional walk, Hunter Pence grounded into an easy double play.
San Francisco's lead didn't last long. In the bottom of the first, Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran tweaked a knee while running to first base and had to leave the game. In the bottom of the third Beltrán's replacement, Matt Carpenter, stepped to the plate with a runner on base and two outs, and promptly launched Cain's fifth pitch 430 feet for a two-run homer.
And that's where things stayed until the seventh. In the sixth, Lohse did get into a two-out jam but was bailed out by reliever Trevor Rosenthal when Angel Pagan grounded out to end the rally.
The Giants threatened again in the seventh. With Edward Mujica pitching, Marco Scutaro led off with a line drive ticketed for center field, but Mujica deflected the ball to second baseman Daniel Descalso, who had plenty of time to throw out Scutaro. Pablo Sandoval came up, and hit a ball so hard over left fielder Matt Holliday's head that Sandoval had to stop at first with a ridiculously long single. Then Buster Posey drove a single past David Freese.
That brought Mike Matheny out of the dugout, and right-hander Mitchell Boggs out of the bullpen. Boggs didn't fare well in the postseason just one year ago, but this time he came through with flying colors, striking out both Pence and Brandon Belt to quash another rally.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals scored once for a 3-1 lead, just before heavy rains made the conditions unplayable. When play finally resumed, left-hander Javier Lopez struck out Jon Jay to keep the Giants in the game.
To no avail, though. Matheny called on closer Jason Motte for two-inning save, and Motte responded by retiring all six Giants he faced; he threw 19 pitches, and all 19 were fastballs. At 9:39 Central Time, six hours and 30 minutes after the first pitch, Pablo Sandoval lifted an easy fly ball to center field and the Cardinals had their Game 3 victory and their critical lead in this series.