Thearon W. Henderson

Giants force Game 7 with 6-1 victory over Cards

Ryan Vogelsong has been sharp, and the Giants took advantage of shaky fielding and timely hitting to win 6-1 and force Game 7 in the NLCS.

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Ryan Vogelsong out after 7 strong innings

Ryan Vogelsong was a last-second addition to the Giants' rotation. He struggled so much through August and early September, there was talk that he'd be the pitcher left in the bullpen throughout the playoffs.

Instead, he pitched his third straight brilliant game of the playoffs, and in Game 6, he pitched his second straight elimination-game masterpiece, shutting the Cardinals down. Vogelsong threw seven innings, striking out nine and walking one. He allowed four hits, all of them with two outs, and gave up just one run.

He was good.

The Giants turn the game over to their bullpen, and Jeremy Affeldt is out in the top of the eighth inning. Santiago Casilla would likely come in to face a right-hander, with Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo lurking for the match-ups in the eight and ninth.


Allen Craig's RBI single gets Cardinals on board

Ryan Vogelsong lost his no-hitter in the fifth inning, and now he's lost his shutout in the sixth.

Early in the sixth, Vogelsong seemed to still be cruising. But with two outs, Carlos Beltran lined a double into the left-field corner. And after a battle, Allen Craig drove a hard grounder into left for an RBI single. Then, with a couple of relief pitchers getting warmed up in the Giants' bullpen, Yadier Molina drove a liner to center field ... but right at Angel Pagan, who made the routine play to end the threat.

Still, Vogelsong suddenly appears vulnerable. He's struck out eight Cardinals, tying his regular-season career high. He's also thrown 91 pitches, and might not be much longer for Game 6.

Not to worry, though: it's still Giants 5, Cardinals 1.


Ryan Vogelsong no-hit bid over, Giants still up

This here Ryan Vogelsong guy is pitching a great game. Like, a really good game. It's hard to pitch as well as Vogelsong is right now. It's extremely rare to pitch as well as he has, if you know what I mean.

Alright. He has a no-hitter going. And ...

Dang. I guess that stuff about jinxes is legit. That was Daniel Descalso blooping the first hit of the night, and Vogelsong's no-hit bid was over.

In the next at-bat, though, Pete Kozma drilled a ball to left for a solid single. Suddenly, the Cardinals had a two-out rally, which is the start of a story that teams tell each other with a flashlight to their faces around a campfire. Skip Schumaker came up as a pinch-hitter for Chris Carpenter, and Vogelsong left a fastball over the heart of the plate with his first pitch. Schumaker fouled it straight back. Oooooh.

On the next pitch, though, Schumaker swung at a fastball with much better location, grounding out to end the threat.

Rookie Shelby Miller is in the game for the Cardinals in the fifth.


Vogelsong keeps mowing down Cardinals, gets 7th K

Ryan Vogelsong hasn't been perfect in Game 6.

Close, though. Through four innings, he's struck out seven Cardinals while giving up just a single walk and no hits at all. As Tim McCarver's pointed out, Vogelsong's essentially been perfect with his fastball location; you can get away with throwing 89 miles an hour if every fastball just grazes the outside edge of the strike zone, or the inside edge.

With one more strikeout, Vogelsong will match his career high.

And as we head into the fifth, the Giants' 5-0 lead is looking better and better.


Chris Carpenter still in despite shaky start

The Cardinals are down 5-0, which is something that should make the opposing team nervous, of course. But Mike Matheny isn't managing the opposing team; he's managing the team that's down 5-0, and he's making moves accordingly. Or, rather, he's not making moves accordingly.

After Carpenter allowed four runs in the second inning, his spot in the order came up in the top of the third. Joe Kelly had been warming in the bullpen for the Cards, and he was likely ready, but Carpenter hit for himself, and Kelly sat down.

The knee-jerk move would have been to pull Carpenter, but that would have meant the Cardinals' long reliever wouldn't be available for a Game 7, and Kyle Lohse was shaky with his command in a Game 3 win. Keeping Carpenter in isn't conceding the game; it's an acknowledgement that if not for an error, he would have escaped the second with minimal damage, and that the Cardinals don't have the benefit of an off day to rest a chewed-up bullpen.

Carpenter made Matheny look smart in the bottom of the third, striking out the side. The Giants are still up 5-0 in Game 6, but Carpenter looks like he's settling in.


Big inning for Giants has them ahead 5-0 in 3rd

Ryan Vogelsong's a really good pitcher.

What he's not is a strikeout pitcher. His single-game high in strikeouts this season was eight (twice) and he finished the season with 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings. He's not Bob Tewksbury, but neither is he Max Scherzer.

Which makes it all the more impressive that Vogelsong has struck out five St. Louis Cardinals in the first two innings of Game 6. In Vogelson's two previous postseason starts -- he pitched well in both, by the way -- Vogelsong struck out five Reds in five innings and four Cardinals in seven innings.

To this point, he's simply been overpowering.

Chris Carpenter obviously hasn't been as sharp. In the bottom of the first, he gave up a walk and a long double, and was fortunate to give up just one run. In the second, Brandon Belt led off with a triple off the right-field fence. Carpenter struck out Gregor Blanco, then issued a free pass to Brandon Crawford with the pitcher coming up next.

And just the intentional walk hurt the Cardinals in Game 5, it hurt them in Game 6. Vogelsong squared around to bunt, but pulled his bat back and poked a little grounder toward shortstop ...


... where Pete Kozma booted it. Everybody was safe, including Belt at home. Kozma got the error on that play, and that extra baserunner wound up hurting quite a lot. Because after Carpenter struck out Ángel Pagán, Marco Scutaro drove a two-out, two-run double into the left-field corner.

Pablo Sandoval was next, and Carpenter just couldn't figure out a way to get him out. Finally, Panda grounded Carpenter's 10th pitch up the middle, just under the diving Daniel Descalso's glove and into center field to drive home Scutaro with the Giants' fifth run.

Buster Posey hit a grounder to shortstop, and Carpenter finally escaped. Way too late, though. After two innings it's Giants 5, Cardinals 0.


Giants move ahead in first

Ryan Vogelsong threw 13 straight fastballs to open up Game 6 for the Giants. Some of them went in, some of them went out. He struck out Jon Jay on a fastball, and he walked Matt Carpenter on a fastball that just missed. That is the essence of Vogelsong, perhaps with a couple of jam-shot outs worked in.

After striking Jay out, Vogelsong got ahead of Carlos Beltran with two fastballs that were fouled away. On his 14th pitch of the game, though, Vogelsong threw a nasty changeup to get Beltran swinging. Allen Craig struck out looking for the last out of the inning, taking a fastball right down the middle.

So Vogelsong did just swell in his half-inning.

Chris Carpenter was a little shaky in his half of the inning. With one out, Carpenter walked Marco Scutaro on a plethora of close pitches:


Pablo Sandoval followed that with a double roped over the head of center fielder Jon Jay, and Buster Posey grounded to third for an RBI. David Freese initially looked as if he was going to come home with the ball, but he threw to first after thinking better of it.

Hunter Pence followed by making an out because, well, yeah. But one inning down, and the Giants are up 1-0 in Game 6.


Matt Holliday scratched from Cardinals' lineup

Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was scratched from the Game 6 lineup due to back tightness.


Cardinals' Game 6 lineup looks awfully familiar

St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has posted his lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, and -- with right-hander Ryan Vogelsong starting for the Giants -- it looks a lot like Matheny's Game 5 lineup ... and his Game 4 lineup, and all the lineups before that ...

1. Jon Jay* - CF
2. Carlos Beltran# - RF
3. Matt Holliday - LF
4. Allen Craig - 1B
5. Yadier Molina - C
6. David Freese - 3B
7. Daniel Descalso* - 2B
8. Pete Kozma - SS
9. Chris Carpenter - P

It's probably safe to say that Mike Matheny doesn't put a great deal of thought into his lineups. With the exception of Game 4 last Thursday night -- when Matt Carpenter subbed for the injured Carlos Beltrán -- Matheny has deployed the same eight position players in the same lineup slots in all 11 of the Cardinals' postseason contests.

The Cardinals are hoping Game 6 is not a repeat of Game 2, when Carpenter lasted only four innings, while the Cards managed to score just one against Vogelsong in seven innings, and lost 7-1.


No surprises in Bruce Bochy's Game 6 lineup

With plenty of time to spare, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy posted his lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, with right-hander Chris Carpenter starting for the St. Louis Cardinals:

1. Angel Pagan# - CF
2. Marco Scutaro - 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval# - 3B
4. Buster Posey - C
5. Hunter Pence - RF
6. Brandon Belt* - 1B
7. Gregor Blanco* - LF
8. Brandon Crawford* - SS
9. Ryan Vogelsong - P

Well, you gotta hand it to Bochy - He's not one to panic. Or split up his left-handed hitters to make Mike Matheny's job just a tad more difficult in the late innings. Some manager might drop Pence to No. 6 in the lineup, to break up the run of left-handed hitters and also because Pence is batting .154 in the Giants' 10 postseason games. Shoot, Bochy might be well-advised to drop Pence to seventh in the lineup. Or eighth. Or not.

But like I said, you gotta hand it to Bochy. If this doesn't work, at least he doesn't have to worry about Game 7.

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