Giants complete NLCS rally with a 9-0 rout of Cardinals
San Francisco ties record for consecutive elimination-game wins with a lopsided Game 7 win over St. Louis.
SAN FRANCISCO — Overcoming long odds and undermining common sense, the San Francisco Giants steamrolled over the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday night to claim a place in the World Series.
All month long, they were wobbling on the precipice of elimination. They earned a place in the National League Championship Series only after winning three consecutive games away from home against the Cincinnati Reds during a best-of-five division series. They forced a seventh game in this round after fighting back from a three-games-to-one deficit against the Cardinals.
And now the Giants will compete for the World Series title after surging to a 9-0 victory in Game 7 before 43,056 at AT&T Park, stomping through a game that featured all the tension of a bayside stroll, the manic energy of a rock concert and a steady rain that turned to a downpour in the ninth.
Hunter Pence got the Giants going with a weird double and Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October to lead San Francisco to win its record-tying sixth elimination game of the postseason, completing a lopsided rally from a 3-1 series deficit.
"We're going to the World Series, this is unbelievable," series MVP Marco Scutaro said.
The Giants, who won it all in 2010, will host reigning AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, Triple Crown slugger Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 on Wednesday night.
Verlander is set to pitch Wednesday's opener at AT&T Park. Giants manager Bruce Bochy insisted before Monday's game he had not planned any further in advance.
Scutaro produced his sixth multihit game of the series and matched an LCS record with 14 hits and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run for his fifth straight game.
"These guys never quit," Bochy said. "They just kept believing and they got it done."
After falling behind 3-1 in the series at Busch Stadium, the Giants outscored the wild-card Cardinals 20-1 over the final three games behind stellar starting pitching from Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Cain.
They also benefited from some strange bounces.
On Pence's double that highlighted a five-run third, his bat broke at the label on impact, then the broken barrel hit the ball twice more. That put a rolling, slicing spin on the ball and caused it to change directions — leaving shortstop Pete Kozma little chance to make the play. Kozma broke to his right, figuring that's where the ball would go, but it instead curved to left-center.
Injured closer Brian Wilson, with that bushy black beard, danced in the dugout and fans kept twirling their orange rally towels even through rain in the late innings — a downright downpour when Sergio Romo retired Matt Holliday on a pop-up to Scutaro to end it.
"This rain never felt so good," Scutaro said.
The NL West champion Giants won their first postseason clincher at home since the 2002 NLCS, also against the Cardinals.
Cain joined St. Louis' Chris Carpenter as the only pitchers with victories in two winner-take-all games in the same postseason. Carpenter, who lost Games 2 and 6 in this series, did it last year.Cain reached 46 pitches through two innings but settled in nicely the rest of the way to avenge a loss to Lohse in Game 3. He walked off the mound to a standing ovation when Jeremy Affeldt entered with two outs in the sixth. Affeldt then got Daniel Descalso to pop out with two runners on.Yadier Molina had four hits but got little help from the rest of the Cardinals, who went 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position over their final three games.
"It's about the team that's hot, and we went on a cold streak," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We got to this point by being that team that was hot and taking advantage of opportunities. But we just couldn't make it happen these last two games."
|St. Louis||000 000 000||—||0||7||2|
|San Francisco||115 000 11x||—||9||14||0|
|Lohse L, 1-1||2||6||5||5||1||1||7.04|
|M.Cain W, 1-1||5-2/3||5||0||0||1||4||2.19|
|Most consecutive wins when facing postseason elimination, in one year:|
|6||San Francisco Giants||2012|
|6||Kansas City Royals||1985|
|Source: The Associated Press|