Cardinals ride early lead to take Game 1
San Francisco couldn't overcome a six-run hole, dropping the first game of the NLCS to St. Louis, 6-4.
SAN FRANCISCO — This time, Carlos Beltran, David Freese and the St. Louis Cardinals were the ones who took a six-run lead — and held onto it, barely.
Beltran and Freese hit two-run homers and these wild, wild-card Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 Sunday night in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
Only two nights earlier, the Cardinals came back from a 6-0 deficit, using a four-run rally in the ninth inning at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of the division series.
"The way we play the game, we have been in this type of situation before in the regular season," Beltran said. "These guys have this mentality of not panicking."
The St. Louis bullpen delivered with 5-1/3 scoreless innings after starter Lance Lynn was chased early. Edward Mujica, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out the side in order in the seventh for the win. Jason Motte finished for his second save of the postseason, and the Cardinals gave first-year manager Mike Matheny a win against his former club.
Matheny's crew hardly looked road weary after a cross-country trip. The Giants dropped to 0-3 at AT&T Park during these playoffs.
Beltran's fourth-inning drive into the seats in left-center chased San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, who has been a far cry from the impressive pitcher he was during the 2010 World Series run.
It was Beltran's 14th career postseason home run and third this October.
"Right now I'm really enjoying myself," Beltran said. "Right now I'm seeing the ball well. I feel like I have a good approach at the plate, I feel like I'm not trying to do too much, and good things are happening."
Beltran spent the second half of the 2011 season with San Francisco after a trade from the Mets, but the Giants missed the playoffs last fall a year after capturing an improbable championship. The sellout crowd of 42,534 let him have it with boos during pregame introductions and each time he stepped into the batter's box.
Beltran and Freese, whose long ball came in the second inning, each had two strikes when they homered.
"I think that's been very much of a strong suit for us all season," Matheny said. "And it's a beautiful thing when these guys trust themselves when they get to two strikes. They can be a little more selective early in the count and then they're not going to panic when we do get to two strikes. I give the guys a lot of credit."
Matheny stuck with the same winning lineup that he sent out for Game 5, and some of the same faces came through again.
"They put together some better at-bats than us," Giants center fielder Angel Pagan said. "They hit some homers and were up 6-0. That's a pretty good lead in the playoffs. We tried to battle back. We did our best but it wasn't our night."
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Monday night, with Chris Carpenter pitching for the Cardinals against Ryan Vogelsong.
|St. Louis||020 400 000||—||6||8||0|
|San Francisco||000 400 000||—||4||7||1|
|Mujica W, 1-0||1||0||0||0||0||3||0.00|
|Boggs H, 1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Motte S, 1||1||1||0||0||0||0||0.00|
|Bumgarner L, 0-1||3-2/3||8||6||6||1||2||14.73|