Christian Petersen

Giants vs. Cardinals, NLCS: San Francisco wins the pennant

The San Francisco Giants completed a 3-1 comeback over the St. Louis Cardinals by winning the final three games of the National League Championship Series. They'll advance to the World Series to take on the Detroit Tigers.

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57 Total Updates since October 13, 2012
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St. Louis fans look to move past Game 7 loss

The Cardinals fell in Game 7 of the NLCS, and their fans are taking solace in the fact that baseball has a pattern.

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Giants fans react to strange Game 7 win

The Giants won the NLCS, helped in large part to an odd hit from Hunter Pence, and their fans couldn't be happier.

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Marco Scutaro, 2012 NLCS MVP

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro is your 2012 National League Championship Series Most Valuable Player. Scutaro came up with timely hits, regular hits, and just wouldn't stop hitting en route to winning the MVP award.

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Scutaro piled up 14 hits in the series, compiling an incredible batting average of .500. Scutaro drove him four RBIs among those 14 hits, and also crossed home plate to score six runs on the game.

Scutaro scored the first run of Game 5 en route to a 5-0 victory over the Cardinals, and then scored the first run of Game 6 in a 6-1 win to tie the series at 3-3. He would score in the bottom of the 3rd in Game 7 in a 9-0 San Francisco win. Scutaro managed a hit in every game of the NLCS, going 2-5 in Game 1, 2-3 in Game 2, 2-5 in Game 3, 2-4 in Game 4, 1-4 in Game 5, 2-3 in Game 6, and then went 3-4 in Game 7.

Scutaro has been hitting at an incredible rate since joining San Francisco. He batted .314 in August and then raised that to .402 in September, finishing with a .362 mark and 44 RBI in 61 game

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Giants win the pennant

The San Francisco Giants are headed back to the World Series to face the Detroit Tigers. The Giants rolled in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 9-0.

The Giants started things out in the first inning with an Angel Pagan single. Marco Scutaro singled to advance Pagan to third, and Pablo Sandoval grounded out to the pitcher to bring home Pagan. In the second, Gregor Blanco singled, Brandon Crawford grounded out to advance Blanco, and then Matt Cain singled right up the middle to send Blanco home to make it 2-0 San Francisco.

The Giants broke things open in the third inning. Kyle Lohse was relieved after loading the bases on a single to Scutaro, a double to Sandoval, and a walk to Buster Posey. Then Hunter Pence cleared the bases with an incredible hit that bounced off his bat three times and went into shallow center. Three runs scored off a fielding error to make it 5-0, and that was pretty much the game. The Giants scored two more runs in the inning off of fielder's choices, added one more in the eighth, and Brandon Belt belted one to deep right.

Cain pitched 5innings, gave up five hits and struck out four. The Giants bullpen completed the shutout by getting 10 outs.

San Francisco will host Detroit in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night.

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Giants two innings away from World Series

Matt Cain and the Giants are cruising past the St. Louis Cardinals right now as they lead, 7-0, after six innings.

The Giants scored five and chased Cardinals starting pitcher Kyle Lohse out of the game in the third inning as they took a 7-0 lead that still holds after six innings.

Cain has been stellar at holding the Cardinals at bay. After allowing two runners to reach base in the second inning, the Cardinals couldn't muster much offense against Cain. He allowed three hitters to reach base in the third through fifth innings, and it wasn't until the sixth that the Cardinals got two runners on base again. Cain struck out David Freese before he was pulled for Jeremy Affeldt.

Cain has four strikeouts, a walk and given up five hits through 5.2 innings. He was pulled after 102 pitches, 64 of which were strikes.

After the big third inning, the Cardinals' bullpen has settled down for a couple of innings. They struck out the side in the bottom of the fifth, but then the Giants started to threaten again in the sixth. Trevor Rosenthal walked Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey followed with a single to center to push Sandoval to second. He induced a Brandon Belt groundout to end the threat.

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G-men lead 7-0 through three innings

The San Francisco Giants chased St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse out of the game early, as they lead 7-0 after three innings.

Lohse loaded the bases with no outs in the third inning and the Giants made him pay. Marco Scutaro singled to open the inning and Pablo Sandoval doubled to advance him to third. Lohse walked Posey to load the bases, and Mike Matheny pulled his troubled starter with the Giants leading, 2-0.

Hunter Pence pounced on the first pitch from Joe Kelly and cleared the bases with an error off of John Jay to give the Giants a 5-0 lead. Brandon Belt then reached on an infield single, and Kelly walked Gregor Blanco to load the bases for the second time with no outs in the same inning.

Kelly got Cain to strike out swinging for the first out, but Angel Pagan picked up another RBI when he ground into a fielder's choice. Kelly continued the Cardinals' pitching struggles, walking Scutaro as he came up to bat for the second time in the inning to load the bases again. Sandoval lined out to finally end the inning for the Cardinals, but the Giants led, 7-0.

Matt Cain has given up three hits and a walk through three innings but has kept the Cardinals off the board. He also has two strikeouts. Cain has pitched 56 pitches through three innings and hasn't really gotten into too much trouble. He even helped his own cause in the bottom of the second inning, hitting an RBI single straight up the middle to score Gregor Blanco from second base.

Lohse did not have his best stuff when he needed it. He finished the game with five earned runs on six hits and one walk through only two innings.

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Cardinals vs. Giants lineups, NLCS Game 7

The San Francisco Giants will attempt to complete their comeback in the NLCS with ace Matt Cain on the mound. The Giants were down 3-1 in the series against the St. Louis Cardinals, before winning the last two games to force a Game 7.

Cain is 1-2 in this post-season so far and lost Game 3 of the NLCS to St. Louis, 3-1. Kyle Lohse will start for the Cardinals. Lohse earned the win against Cain in Game 3, after giving up just one run on seven hits in 5-2/3 innings.

The complete Game 7 lineups for both teams are below.

St. Louis Cardinals:

1. Jon Jay (L) CF
2. Carlos Beltran (S) RF
3. Matt Holliday (R) LF
4. Allen Craig (R) 1B
5. Yadier Molina (R) C
6. David Freese (R) 3B
7. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B
8. Peter Kozma (R) SS
9. Kyle Lohse (R) P

San Francisco Giants:

1. Angel Pagan (S) CF
2. Marco Scutaro (R) 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Hunter Pence (R) RF
6. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
7. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
8. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
9. Matt Cain (R) P

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Cardinals vs. Giants lineups, NLCS Game 7: Cain, L

The San Francisco Giants will attempt to complete their comeback in the NLCS with ace Matt Cain on the mound. The Giants were down 3-1 in the series before winning the last two games to force a Game 7.

Cain is 1-2 in this post-season so far and lost Game 3 of the NLCS to St. Louis, 3-1. Kyle Lohse will start for the Cardinals. Lohse earned the win versus Cain in Game 3 after giving up just one run on seven hits in 5.2 innings.

The complete Game 7 lineups for both teams are below.

St. Louis Cardinals:

1. Jon Jay (L) CF
2. Carlos Beltran (S) RF
3. Matt Holliday (R) LF
4. Allen Craig (R) 1B
5. Yadier Molina (R) C
6. David Freese (R) 3B
7. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B
8. Pete Kozma (R) SS
9. Kyle Lohse (R) P

San Francisco Giants:

1. Angel Pagan (S) CF
2. Marco Scutaro (R) 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Hunter Pence (R) RF
6. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
7. Gregor Blanco (L) LF
8. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
9. Matt Cain (R) P

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Ryan Vogelsong spins gem to force Game 7

The San Fransisco Giants received an impressive performance from starter Ryan Vogelsong to win Game 6 over the St. Louis Cardinals and force a seventh and final game to decide the NLCS.

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Giants force Game 7 with Cards following 6-1 win

Vogelsong and a four-run second inning propelled San Francisco to a 6-1 win. Game 7 of the NLCS will now be played on Monday.

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Giants lead 5-1 after six innings

The San Francisco Giants took an early five-run lead in the second inning, and a strong pitching performance from Ryan Vogelsong has the club up 5-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals after six innings of play. A win tonight for the Giants would force a decisive Game 7 to determine the NLCS.

Vogelsong has surrendered just one run on four hits and one walk thus far. He has struck out eight and lowered his postseason ERA to 1.38. Vogelsong just batted for himself in the bottom of the sixth, so it appears manager Bruce Bochy has confidence in him to work at least one more inning.

Chris Carpenter did not fare as well. The veteran righty lasted just four innings, giving up five runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks.

The big hit of the game for San Francisco came on a two-run double off the bat of Marco Scutaro in the second. Allen Craig drove home St. Louis' lone run in the sixth with a single to left that plated Carlos Beltran.

We are now headed to the seventh inning at AT&T Park.

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Giants take early 5-0 lead over Cardinals

The San Francisco Giants rallied for four runs in the second inning to take a 5-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. With the Giants facing elimination on Sunday night, the early lead for Ryan Vogelsong could be huge for their chances to advance.

Buster Posey grounded out in the first inning to plate the game's first run off Chris Carpenter.

In the second, Vogelsong grounded weakly to shortstop Peter Kozma with runners on the corners. The rookie shortstop could not make a play on the ball, allowing a run to score. Marco Scutaro then doubled to make it 4-0, and Pablo Sandoval's seeing-eye single up the middle added another San Francisco run.

The Cardinals got their bullpen working as Carpenter struggled in the second inning. It seems likely he has thrown his final pitch of the day.

St. Louis is about to begin hitting in the top of the third.

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Holliday (back stiffness) a late scratch for STL

Cardinals left field Matt Holliday (back tightness) was a late scratch from the St. Louis' lineup for Game 6 of the NLCS against the San Francsico Giants.

Cards manager Mike Matheny was obviously concerned with how Holliday's lower back tightness might affect his swing so he will be replaced by Allen Craig in left field. Rookie Matt Carpenter will also be inserted into the lineup to replace Craig at first base.

Right fielder Carlos Beltran, who usually bats second, will drop down to the three-hole with Carpenter taking over in the two-slot.

With the Giants facing elimination, this seems like obvious good news for San Francisco fans. Upon further examination though, it's unclear how much of a drop off the Cardinals take with the Holliday loss as Carpenter went 2-for-6 with three runs, a home run and three RBI in Games 3 and 4 as Beltran's replacement.

Holliday has gone 4-for-21 with no extra base hits and two RBI in the NLCS so far. The veteran batted .295 with 27 home runs and a time-high 102 RBI in the regular season this year.

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The Giants have a familiar lineup in Game 6

The San Francisco Giants are throwing out a familiar line-up as they try and extend their postseason and force a Game 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship series.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't tinkered with the Giants lineup much at all this series, aside from when Tim Lincecum pitched and he played Hector Sanchez at catcher.

Giants lineup:
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

Ryan Vogelsong will face off against Chris Carpenter for the second time this series. Vogelsong got the best of Carpenter and the Cardinals in a 7-1 Game 2 win. He was the first Giants pitcher to make it through six innings in the postseason when he pitched seven innings, giving up four hits and one run. It was Vogelsong's first career postseason win.

Cardinals lineup:
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

Carpenter hopes to rebound from his Game 2 start, and the Cardinals probably couldn't pick a better person than the 37-year-old ace. Last year, Carpenter went 4-0 in the postseason and pitched two series clinchers - the division series and then Game 7 of the world series.

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Giants try to stay alive at home

The San Francisco Giants fought off elimination on Friday night, and they face the same challenge on Sunday. Ryan Vogelsong faces off with Chris Carpenter in Game 6.

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Blog reaction to Zito's Game 5 gem

Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the NLCS on Friday night, keeping San Francisco's season alive. SB Nation bloggers for both the Giants and Cardinals react to the win that sent the series back to AT&T Park.

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Giants fans react to Barry Zito's gem

Barry Zito pitched 7-2/3 scoreless innings in Game 5 resulting in instant folk hero status among Giants fans.

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Giants stay alive with Game 5 win

The San Francisco Giants stayed alive in the NLCS with a 5-0 win on Friday.

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Zito leading Giants in Game 5, San Fran leads 5-0

Barry Zito's tenure with the San Francisco Giants has not been a good one. With his club facing elimination on Friday night in Game 5 of the NLCS, Zito pitched what might have been the best game of his career. If anything, it was the best postseason performance of his career.

The veteran southpaw tossed 115 pitches on his way to 7 2/3 innings against a red-hot Cardinals lineup. Zito gave up just six hits and a walk, striking out six. Unlike recent starts, he was able to elevate his fastball effectively, often forcing the Cardinals' hitters to swing right through it.

Manager Bruce Bochy elected to pull Zito with two outs in the eighth inning. Santiago Casilla is now entering the game to bridge the gap to closer Sergio Romo.

The Giants currently lead 5-0. San Francisco scored four of their runs in the fourth inning, aided greatly by a throwing error from pitcher Lance Lynn. Brandon Crawford delivered the big blow of the frame with a two-run single up the middle. Pablo Sandoval added an insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth.

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Zito, Giants hold 4-0 lead in Game 5

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were locked in a 0-0 tie through three innings, but a four-run fourth against Lance Lynn propelled the Giants to a comfortable lead. The game is now heading into the sixth and San Francisco continues to lead by four runs.

In the top of the fourth, Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval singled to begin the inning. Buster Posey struck out, but Hunter Pence was able to reach on a throwing error from Lynn that could have potentially been an inning-ending double play. Scutaro came around to score on the error to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Brandon Belt popped out, and after a Gregor Blanco walk, Brandon Crawford hit a two-run single up the middle. Barry Zito then laid down a perfect bunt to reach first and plate the fourth run of the game.

Zito has been great through five innings. The veteran southpaw got himself into trouble early, but managed to work around it. He has surrendered just four hits and a walk.

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Giants, Cardinals tied 0-0 after three innings

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are both scoreless through three innings. With the Cardinals holding a 3-1 series advantage in the NLCS, a Giants losing would end their season.

San Francisco has been held hitless by Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. The lone batter to reach was Gregor Blanco on a leadoff walk in the third, but the Giants were unable to advance him past second base. Lynn has struck out five batters through three frames.

Barry Zito has had to work in and out of trouble in the early going, including a no-out, bases-loaded jam in the second inning. The veteran southpaw struck out Daniel Descalso for the first out, and after intentionally walking Pete Kozma, Zito induced a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Lynn.

St. Louis went down in order in the third inning. We are now headed to the fourth at Busch Stadium. The game is currently being televised on FOX.

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Carlos Beltran back from knee injury Friday

The San Francisco Giants will now have to deal with Carlos Beltran's bat Friday evening, as he was a late addition to the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup.

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Posey to catch Zito in Friday's Game 5

Buster Posey will be catching Barry Zito for the first time in over a month with the San Francisco Giants facing elimination in Friday's Game 5.

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Posey wins NL Comeback Player of the Year award

Posey returned from a broken ankle to help lead Giants to NLCS.

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Giants' bats go cold in 8-3 loss to Cardinals

Giants bats go cold against the Cardinals in 8-3 loss.

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Giants send Zito to mound in win or go home Game 5

The Giants look to Bary Zito in Game 5 as they attempt to send the NLCS back to San Francisco.

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Unusual suspects helping spark St. Louis 3-1 lead

Whether it's bottom of the order guys like Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, or fill ins like Matt Carpenter, Cardinals fans are beginning to expect the unexpected during St. Louis' playoff run.

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Giants on brink of elimination after 8-3 loss

The San Francisco Giants have no answers for the St. Louis Cardinals' bats or Adam Wainwright, fall 8-3 in Game 4.

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Tim Lincecum roughed up, Giants trail 2-0

Things have not started well for the San Francisco Giants against the St. Louis Cardinals, as they trail 2-0 after the first inning. The night got off disastrously for Tim Lincecum, who made his first postseason start after making several successful bullpen appearances.

In the bottom of the first, center fielder Jon Jay started with a single off Lincecum to center field, and then first baseman Matt Carpenter drew a walk. Matt Holliday then singled in Jay and allowed Carpenter to advance to third base to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead. Then Allen Craig hit a loud out to center field that Angel Pagan barely snared, allowing Carpenter to come home. Lincecum gave up another hit but escaped the inning without further damage.

The Giants went down in order to start their night in the top of the first inning. Angel Pagan grounded out to shortstop, Marco Scutaro flied out to right, and Buster Posey flied out to center field.

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Giants, Cardinals release Game 4 lineups

Lineups for Game 4 of the 2012 NLCS have been released.

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Lincecum and Zito to start, Cards fans hopeful

With Giants manager Bruce Bochy announcing Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito as his starters for Games 4 and 5, SB Nation's Cardinals blog Viva El Birdos thinks the team's rotation is in trouble.

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Giants vs. Cardinals, 2012 NLCS Game 4 preview

The San Francisco Giants will try to avoid a 3-1 NLCS deficit by winning Game 4 on Thursday.

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Giants fans unhappy with Game 3 loss

The San Francisco Giants are disappointed by losing Game 3 of the NLCS 3-1 and falling into a 3-1 series hole.

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Tim Lincecum to start Game 4, Barry Zito Game 5

The Giants will turn to Tim Lincecum as they attempt to even the NLCS in Game 4.

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Cain takes loss as Giants fall, 3-1 in NLCS Game 3

The St. Louis Cardinals held on to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 3-1, following a rain delay that lasted more than two hours.

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Rain delay suspends Giants v. Cards in NLCS Game 3

Game 3 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium is in a rain delay, according to CSN Bay Area's Andrew Baggarly.

The official scorer announced that Giants starter Matt Cain has been replaced by Javier Lopez. The umpires then made it clear to the scorer that because of the delay, Lopez will not be required to face a batter.

The Giants struck first in the top of the third inning when Pablo Sandoval grounded out to the shortstop, scoring Angel Pagan from third base on a fielder's choice. The Cardinals answered right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the same frame on Matt Carpenter's two-run homer off Cain.

St. Louis added another run in the bottom of the seventh when Shane Robinson grounded out to second on a fielder's choice to leave the score as it stands currently.

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Cardinals-Giants Score Update

Matt Carpenter has no problem facing Matt Cain, even on a moment's notice. His third-inning home run off the Giants right-hander makes him 5-for-6 in his career against Cain, with four runs batted in. Carpenter came into the game after Carlos Beltran left with a knee injury and blasted an 0-2 pitch over the wall in right field that gave his squad a 2-1 lead.

The Giants got on the board in the first inning on a groundout by Pablo Sandoval that scored Angel Pagan. Despite batting around Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse, the Giants have left nine runners on base and have scored only the one run. Lohse gave way to the bullpen in the sixth, and Trevor Rosenthal got out of a jam to end the inning. A combination of Edward Mujica and Mitchell Boggs escaped a stressful seventh inning for St. Louis.

Matt Cain remains in the game, having given up just four hits in six innings. Carpenter's home run was the fourth that Cain has allowed this postseason. That coming after the Giants pitcher did not allow an earned run in postseason play in 2010.

Carlos Beltran, who left the game in the first inning, has been listed as day-to-day with a left knee strain

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Will the Giants retaliate for Holliday's slide?

After Matt Holliday's takeout slide nicked up Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro, manager Bruce Bochy has no plans to retaliate.

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Scutaro in the lineup for the Giants in Game 3

The San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals face off in a pivotal Game 3 on Wednesday, and Marco Scutaro will be in the lineup at second base after taking a hit from Matt Holliday on a controversial slide in Game 2.

Matt Cain takes the mound for San Francisco. He was 1-1 with a 5.06 ERA in the NLDS against the Reds. Cain finished with a 16-5 record and a 2.79 ERA in the regular season. He beat the Cardinals on May 17, allowing four runs in six innings but fell on Aug. 6 after allowing five runs without making it out of the sixth inning.

St. Louis will go with Kyle Lohse. He posted a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA in the regular season. Lohse did not pitch against the Giants in the regular season. He went seven innings, allowing just one run while striking out five in his last start against the Washington Nationals.

Game time is set for 1 p.m. PT on FOX.

Lineups for both teams, via baseballpress.com:

Giants

1. Angel Pagan (S) CF

2. Marco Scutaro (R) 2B

3. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B

4. Buster Posey (R) C

5. Hunter Pence (R) RF

6. Brandon Belt (L) 1B

7. Gregor Blanco (L) LF

8. Brandon Crawford (L) SS

9. Matt Cain (R) P

Cardinals

1. Jon Jay (L) CF

2. Carlos Beltran (S) RF

3. Matt Holliday (R) LF

4. Allen Craig (R) 1B

5. Yadier Molina (R) C

6. David Freese (R) 3B

7. Daniel Descalso (L) 2B

8. Pete Kozma (R) SS

9. Kyle Lohse (R) P

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Cain faces Lohse in Game 3 of the NLCS

The Giants and Cardinals face off in a pivotal Game 3 on Wednesday.

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Marco Scutaro might play Game 3

The hard slide that took Marco Scutaro out of Game 2 might not keep him out of the lineup very long.

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Giants vs. Cardinals Game 3 details

Here is all the relevant TV schedule and game information you need for Game 3 of the 2012 National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.

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Holliday's dirty slide evokes memories of 1988

Matt Holiday's cut block on Marco Scutaro wasn't the first time the Giants and Cardinals have had a little controversy surrounding slide to break up a double play. Remember 1988? Will Clark vs. Jose Oquendo?

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Bruce Bochy reacts to Scutaro injury

The Giants are still awaiting word on whether or not Marco Scutaro will be out for any length of time following hip injury in Game 2 of the NLCS.

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Vogelsong and Scutaro crucial in Game 2 for Giants

San Francisco Giants fans were quite pleased with the performances Ryan Vogelsong and Marco Scutaro produced in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

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Vogelsong pitches Giants to 1-1 NLCS tie

Ryan Vogelsong pitched seven innings of one-run ball, Marco Scutaro, Angel Pagan, and Ryan Theriot added timely RBI hits, and the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

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Bochy hopes to have Lincecum for Game 4 start

Bruce Bochy is in must-win mode for Game 2, but he would prefer to hold off on using Tim Lincecum until Game 4.

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NLCS Game 2: Giants must overcome Chris Carpenter

The San Francisco Giants will attempt to win their first home playoff game this post-season on Monday.

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Cardinals manager Mike Matheny making mistakes

Viva El Birdos, SB Nation's Cardinals blog, has been noticing a few rookie mistakes from manager Mike Matheny which the San Francisco Giants could undoubtedly benefit from.

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Giants drop NLCS Game 1, 6-4, to Cardinals

The San Francisco Giants fell behind the St. Louis Cardinals early in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Giants could never dig out of the six-run deficit and dropped the series-opener, 6-4.

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Cardinals ride big 4th inning to beat Giants 6-4

Sunday night in San Francisco, the St. Louis Cardinals topped the Giants 6-4 in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series. The Cardinals, of course, are the defending National League and World's Champions, and now seem like a pretty good bet to retain one or both crowns.

Game 1 saw the continuance of two significant trends: Carlos Beltran's all-time postseason brilliance, and the Giants' starters new-found inability to do their fair share of the heavy lifting.

In the second inning, with young Madison Bumgarner on the mound for the Giants, David Freese walloped his first home run of the postseason, a two-run shot. Freese, of course, looked like Babe Ruth last October. But St. Louis was just getting started. In the fourth, Bumgarner got himself into another mess of trouble. After Freese led off with a fly-out, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma unloaded consecutive doubles to make the score 3-0. After Kozma stole third base and Lance Lynn struck out, Jon Jay singled home Kozma.

Which brings us to Carlos Beltrán. He made it 6-0 with a two-run home run. Beltrán has now played in 29 postseason games, and hit 14 home runs. It might not be a terrible stretch to suggest that Beltrán, leaving aside particular situations and Adam Wainwright, might be the most accomplished postseason hitter we've ever seen. His chief competition? Fella named Babe Ruth.

Beltrán's homer knocked out Bumgarner, after which the Giants' bullpen performed brilliantly; the Cardinals would not score again, and in fact would collect not even a single hit against a quintet of San Francisco reliefers. But enough damage had been done. Somehow, in six postseason games not a single Giant starter has posted a Quality Start. Then again, the Giants' starting pitching isn't what it once was.

And the Cardinals' starting didn't fare a great deal better. Lance Lynn started for St. Louis, and held the Giants hitless in the first three innings. But he gave up five hits in the fourth, with four of them coming after two men were out. The third of those hits was Gregor Blanco's two-run triple; the fourth was Brandon Crawford's double that made the score 6-4. When Lynn then walked pinch-hitter Aubrey Huff, manager Mike Matheny had seen enough. He summoned Joe Kelly from the bullpen, and Kelly finally squelched the rally.

Fortunately for the Cardinals, their relief corps was nearly as good as the Giants'. Both squads racked up 5⅓ innings of relief. Where the Giant reliefers limited the Cardinals to one walk and zero hits, the Cardinal reliefers limited the Giants to two walks and two hits. And, most important, zero runs.

Jason Motte came on in the bottom of the ninth -- beard, fastball, and high socks blazing -- and immediately gave a long, long fly ball to Brandon Crawford that Jon Jay caught at the warning track in straightaway center field. Mott retired pinch-hitter Hector Sanchez on a much easier fly ball to left. But the Giants stayed alive when Angel Pagan drove a single past second baseman Descalso. Motte got ahead of Marco Scutaro, though, and Scutaro ultimately hit a hard grounder to Allen Craig at first base, who fumbled the ball but recovered in time for the game-ending flip to Motte.

Edward Mujica, who pitched the seventh for the Cardinals and struck out all three Giants he faced, earned the win because he was subjectively more effective than any other St. Louis reliefer.

These teams are back at it again Monday night at 8 p.m. Eastern, with Chris Carpenter starting for the Cardinals and Ryan Vogelsong for the Giants.

This story was originally published on BaseballNation.com.

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Cardinals lead Giants 6-4 after four innings

The St. Louis Cardinals took an early 6-0 lead over the Giants in Game One of the 2012 NLCS, but a four-run fourth inning has cut the lead to 6-4.

David Freese, who set the postseason RBI record last year, put the Cardinals on the board in the second inning with a two-run homer to left-center field. In the fourth, Pete Kozma doubled home a run down the line to make it 3-0. Jon Jay singled up the middle to plate Kozma, and then Carlos Beltran jacked a deep two-run homer to left to give St. Louis a 6-0 lead.

The Giants responded in a big way in the bottom half of the frame. With two outs and just one on, Hunter Pence singled to put runners on the corners. Brandon Belt blooped a ball to center field to cut the deficit to 6-1. With runners on the corners once again, Gregor Blanco tripled to clear the bases.

Brandon Crawford then doubled to bring home Blanco, making it 6-4. Aubrey Huff walked in a pinch-hit appearance to keep things going, but Angel Pagan grounded out to end the threat. We are now heading to the fifth inning.

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Giants first base coach suffers concussion

First base coach Roberto Kelly suffered a concussion in batting practice but is expected to be on the field for the San Francisco Giants NLCS opener against the Cardinals.

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Giants' Tim Lincecum to start NLCS in bullpen

The San Francisco Giants will have right-handed pitcher Tim Lincecum coming out of the bullpen, at least to begin the NLCS series against the St. Louis Cardinals

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Cardinals vs. Giants, 2012 NLCS Game 1

The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants play the first of a possible seven games on Sunday night to decide who will be representing the National League in this year's World Series

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NLCS TV schedule released for Giants vs. Cardinals

The start times have been released for the 2012 National League Championship Series between the Giants and Cardinals.

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