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Giants Beat Reds to Force MLB Decider; Cardinals Top Nationals

Angel Pagan, Gregor Blanco and Pablo Sandoval hit home runs as the San Francisco Giants won 8-3 to force a decisive fifth game against the Cincinnati Reds in their National League Division Series.

The Giants lost the first two games at home in the Major League Baseball playoff series before taking two straight in Cincinnati, the site of Game 5.

The winner will play the St. Louis Cardinals or the Washington Nationals for a spot in the World Series. The defending champion Cardinals defeated the Nationals 8-0 today to take a 2-1 lead in that series.

In the American League, the New York Yankees host the Baltimore Orioles tonight with their series tied 1-1. The visiting Detroit Tigers lead the Oakland Athletics 2-1 and will try for the second straight night to finish off their series.

The Yankees began today as 17-5 favorites to win the World Series, with the Reds at 18-5 and the Tigers at 4-1, according to the Las Vegas Hotel’s Super Book. The Nationals are listed at 21-4, meaning a winning $100 wager would return a $525 profit. They’re followed by the Cardinals at 15-2, the Orioles at 12-1, the Athletics at 13-1 and the Giants at 16-1.

Pete Kozma hit a three-run home run as the Cardinals won in Washington, the first postseason game in the nation’s capital since 1933. Game 4 is set for tomorrow in Washington.

Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter allowed seven hits in 5 2/3 innings for the win, his first since Game 7 of last year’s World Series.

“I’m just real excited to have this opportunity,” said Carpenter, who missed most of the season after having surgery to correct nerve damage in his shoulder. “I’m in my fourth spring-training start, but I’m doing it under the lights in the postseason.”

Carpenter’s Season

Carpenter, 37, who went 0-2 this season while being limited to 17 innings, became the first starting pitcher in major league history to win a playoff game following a season in which his team was winless when he pitched. The Cardinals lost all three of his 2012 starts.

Carpenter, a three-time All-Star, was the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner as the league’s best pitcher. He got the win as the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers in the final game of the 2011 World Series.

“It’s unreal, he’s a monster, he’s just a warrior out there,” Cardinals third baseman David Freese said in a radio interview. “He’s not all the way back, and that’s impressive. He’s not throwing as hard. He just got it done tonight.”

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