Christian Petersen

Giants down Cardinals 9-0, win N.L. pennant

The Giants strung their hits together, the Cardinals' defense didn't help out, and San Francisco won big in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

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Giants complete comeback, beat Cards 9-0 in Game 7

Down 3-1 in the National League Championship Series, the San Francisco Giants won the next three games to beat the St. Louis Cardinals and advance to the World Series against the Detroit Tigers.


Cardinals rally, fail to score; Giants add on

At this point, the Cardinals are just padding their stats. In the top of the eighth inning, Matt Holliday chopped a ball to third, and he and his stiff back wheeled out an infield single. Yadier Molina followed that with his fourth hit of the night, a solid single to center.

That put two on with no one out, and the only Giants fans who weren't a little nervous were fools. The Cardinals have made a cottage industry of humiliating teams expecting to celebrate, and the Giants had Santiago Casilla on the mound -- a good reliever with a flair for the dramatic ka-boom.

But the padding of the stats came with the Cardinals not getting a hit with runners in scoring position. They were 2-for-18 in their last three games before the eighth; they were 2-for-21 after the eighth.

And in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants made the score 9-0 on a booming home run from Brandon Belt. That's kind of how Game 7 has gone for both teams.


Giants add a run, now lead Cards 8-0 in 8th

Apparently just because, Bruce Bochy ran another hit-and-run play in the bottom of the seventh inning, with his club already ahead 7-0. It worked, as most other things have for the Giants lately, and they eventually tacked on an insurance run when Aubrey Huff grounded into a double play. They almost tacked on another, when Pete Kozma fumbled (another!) ground ball, but recovered in time to throw out Ángel Pagán trying to score.

At this point it must seem like piling on, if you're the Cardinals or their fans or their manager. Still, you don't want to stop trying to score in a game that means this much, so Mike Matheny probably won't spend this winter plotting his revenge.

We're heading to the top of the eighth, the Cardinals are down to their last six outs in 2012, and they're down 8-0 with some pretty good relief pitchers still waiting their turn to pitch. And so our thoughts turn to Barry Zito pitching a World Series opener ...


Cain exits, but not before plunking Holliday

Blessed with a big lead from his teammates, Matt Cain didn't survive the top of the sixth inning.

He lasted long enough for a big of payback, though. As everyone no doubt recalls, Game 1 featured Matt Holliday executing a devastating body-block into Marco Scutaro at second base; Scutaro would later chip in with a big hit before leaving the game, then return to the lineup and hit like gangbusters throughout this series.

Immediately after Holliday took out Scutaro, the speculation began: Would one of the Giants' pitchers retaliate against Holliday? The answer, through the rest of Game 1, and then through Games 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6, was no.

But when Holliday led off the sixth, the Giants ahead 7-0, was this 0-and-2 fastball an accident?


Maybe it was. Maybe the pitch just got away from Cain.

After a line-out and a line-drive single, Cain struck out David Freese with his 102nd pitch.

Which finished Cain's evening. With two outs in the sixth, Bruce Bochy came out and got the ball from Cain, handed it to Jeremy Affeldt, and Affeldt retired Daniel Descalso to end the Cardinals desultory threat.

The Giants put a couple of runners aboard in the bottom of the sixth, but both were stranded. Not that it's likely to matter, because it's still San Francisco 7, St. Louis 0.


Rosenthal blows Giants away, second guessing ahoy

In the third inning of NLCS Game 7, the Giants loaded the bases with no one out. The Cardinals wanted a strikeout. They wanted to make a pitching change to get the strikeout. Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went to reliever Joe Kelly.

The second guessing on Twitter was swift and immediate. There were a lot of would-be managers asking where rookie sensation Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-m.p.h. fastball was.

Kelly was hit around, albeit with more than a few odd hits and bounces, and the Giants opened up a substantial lead.

When Rosenthal did come in the game in the bottom of the fifth, the Giants couldn't handle him. he threw 13 pitches, 10 for strikes, and struck out the side.

There are a lot of coulda shoulda wouldas in this game so far (and three more innings, mind you), but that could be one of them that will get talked up a little bit.


Uneventful 4th inning is bad news for Cardinals

Just a quick update, because we owe you one!

The Cardinals didn't score in the fourth. Again. They've now scored one run in their last 23 innings.

The Giants didn't score in the fourth. For the first time in this game.

We're on to the fifth, the Giants are still ahead 7-0, and the Cardinals are on life support.


Of course Hunter Pence did this

Because he is not of this Earth.


Giants make it 7-0 with 5 runs in wild 3rd inning

This game's in danger of getting out of hand.

Which is good news if you're pulling for the Giants, and terribly bad news if you're pulling for the Cardinals (sorry, Grandma Connie).

In the top of the third, Jon Jay led off against Matt Cain with a base hit. But three batters later, the Cardinals' mini-rally died when Allen Craig shot a line drive into left-center field that Gregor Blanco was able to track down in full stride to end the frame.

In the bottom of the third, Marco Scutaro led off against Kyle Lohse with his 13th hit in 26 NLCS at-bats, and just a moment later scooted to third base when Pablo Sandoval poled Lohse's first pitch into the left-field corner for a double. That got Joe Kelly working in the bullpen, and Buster Posey to the plate.

Posey was just 3 for 26 in this series, but that didn't help Lohse much, as Posey drew a walk to load the bases.

And that was it for Lohse, who lasted only two-plus innings in the biggest game of his career.

So in came Kelly to face Hunter Pence, who's been so ineffective in this postseason.

Pence, like Scutaro and Sandoval before him, picked on the first pitch he saw. And then came not one, but two defensive miscues of the sort that have so bedeviled the Cardinals lately. Somehow, shortstop Pete Kozma misplayed a likely double play into a single ...


... breaking to his right when the ball was actually hit to his left; granted, Kozma had a pretty damned good excuse: the ball actually hit Pence's shattered bat three times. Has anyone EVER seen this sight before?


And when the ball reached the outfield, Jon Jay made it worse; in his haste to pick up the ball, it got past him and Posey scored all the way from first base.

Oh, there was more. There was an infield single, a walk, an ill-advised throw home by Kozma, a poor throw by Kozma that might have cost the Giants a double play, another walk, a pitching change, an Edward Mujica, and an inning-ending out line-out.

When the dust had finally cleared, the Giants had sent 11 men to the plate and scored five runs.

The game isn't over. Close, though. Heading to the fourth, it's Giants 7, Cardinals 0.


Cain dances in and out of trouble, Giants still up

Somewhere, an American League fan weeps.

Matt Cain looked nasty in the first inning, with his only blemish being a 1-0 change that Carlos Beltran blooped in front of Angel Pagan. In the second inning, though, Cain labored. And labored. And labored. But he didn't break.

Yadier Molina worked Cain to a 3-2 count, and when Cain came in with a fastball, Molina lined it into left for a solid single. David Freese also worked the count full, and Cain's fastball on the payoff pitch just missed:


Or not. Whatever. It was a walk to put two on with no outs. Daniel Descalso followed the walk with a grounder to first, forcing the runner out at second, and Pete Kozma struck out after that. Which brought up Kyle Lohse with two outs. Easy out, right?

Guh. Brandon Crawford's well-timed leap saved two runs, and the Giants held onto the lead.

In the bottom of the second, Gregor Blanco hit a one-out single, and he moved to second when Allen Craig made a nice diving play on a Crawford liner. That brought up Matt Cain. Easy out, right?

Well, dang. That put the Giants up 2-0 in what is literally -- literally -- a must -win game for both teams.


Giants on the board early, lead Cardinals 1-0

Well, the Giants are off to a great start in this National League Game of All Games.

In the top of the first, Carlos Beltran reached on a pop-fly single and later stole second base -- he's now 11 for 11 stealing bases in his postseason career -- but was stranded when Matt Cain retired Allen Craig on a pop to third base. For Cain, the only down note was that he threw 20 pitches in the frame.

But he must have been feeling great a few moments later, when Ángel Pagán led off the bottom of the first with a line-drive single, and even better when Marco Scutaro, with the hit-and-run play going, collected his 23rd base hit in this series, with Pagán going to third.

Pablo Sandoval hit a little nubber toward second baseman Daniel Descalso. Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse tracked it down, but couldn't quickly get a good grip on the ball, and could only watch as Pagán sprinted toward the plate and scored the game's first run; Lohse did have plenty of time to throw out Sandoval at first base, Scutaro advancing to second.

Buster Posey grounded to shortstop Pete Kozma, who was lucky when the ball glanced off the heel of his glove but didn't go far, giving Kozma just enough time to throw out Posey. That brought up Hunter Pence, batting just .163 in this postseason. Lohse, to nobody's surprise, struck out Pence on a breaking ball low and away.

Somehow, Lohse actually threw just 19 pitches, one fewer than Cain.

So we're heading to the second inning, and the Giants have the early 1-0 lead.


The newly reliable Kyle Lohse

Twins fans might be furrowing their collective brow, but Kyle Lohse is one of the more dependable pitchers in the game now.


Holliday back in Cardinals lineup for Game 7

St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday missed Sunday's NLCS Game 6 with back trouble, and some reports mentioned he looked even worse during the game, and there was speculation he might have to miss Game 7.

Speculation over! Holliday is back in the Cards' lineup (* indicates lefthanded hitter, # indicates switch-hitter):

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. Peter Kozma, SS
9. Kyle Lohse, P

This lineup will be facing San Francisco Giants righthander Matt Cain, who gave them six hits and three runs in 6⅔ innings in Game 3, including a home run by Matt Carpenter, who isn't starting Game 7. Cain has a 4.67 ERA in three starts covering 17⅓ innings this postseason; at home he's started one game (Game 1 of the NLDS against the Reds) and allowed three runs in five innings in that contest. Overall at AT&T Park this season, Cain posted a 2.03 ERA and 0.904 WHIP; that's the Giants' best hope of winning, if he can hold the St. Louis offense down.


Showers expected in Bay Area for Game 7

Rain is falling in the Bay Area at the moment, which could spell trouble for Monday night's decisive Game 7 at AT&T Park. Forecasts call for the rain to let up as the day wears on, but then hit again in the late evening, per the National Weather Service:

Today - Showers, mainly before 11am. High near 66. South southwest wind around 14 mph becoming west northwest in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%.

Tonight - Showers likely, mainly after 11pm. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 55. West wind 7 to 9 mph becoming south in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 70%.

The radar as of Monday morning:


With rain also expected Tuesday, and the World Series set to begin Wednesday, it seems likely that MLB will do its best to have Game 7 played Monday night to avoid scheduling complications. All postseason games must go all nine innings, meaning even if Game 7 is postponed, it will be completed when weather permits.

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