Cardinals Wait Out Rain to Beat Giants for 2-1 Lead in NLCS

Matt Carpenter took advantage of his opportunity, coming off the bench after Carlos Beltran’s injury to hit a two-run home run that lifted the St. Louis Cardinals to a rain-delayed 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series.

Carpenter homered in his first at-bat in the bottom of the third inning, making him 5-for-5 in his career against Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain. It gave the defending World Series-champion Cardinals the lead for good in seizing a two-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven NLCS.

“The guy just steps in no matter where he’s hitting or where he’s playing and gets it done,” Cardinals third baseman David Freese said about Carpenter.

The Cardinals closed out the victory after rain caused a delay of 3 hours, 28 minutes in the bottom of the seventh inning at Busch Stadium. They now have a 9-2 record in Game 3 action in the NLCS, including a 6-0 mark at home.

St. Louis hosts Game 4 of the best-of-seven Major League Baseball series today.

The Detroit Tigers host the New York Yankees today after Game 4 of their American League Championship Series was rained out yesterday in Detroit. The Tigers hold a 3-0 series lead and can advance to the World Series with another win against the Yankees, who haven’t been swept in the postseason since the 1980 ALCS against Kansas City.

Tigers Favored

The Tigers are the odds-on favorite to win the World Series at the Las Vegas Hilton’s Super Book, with a successful $130 wager returning $100. The Yankees have 40-1 odds, meaning a winning $100 bet would return $4,000. The Cardinals are now listed at 7-4, with the Giants at 6-1.

The Giants had their five-game postseason road winning streak snapped after being held to one run by Kyle Lohse and four Cardinals relievers. After the rain delay, Jason Motte retired the last seven Giants batters to close out the win.

San Francisco had nine hits, yet left 11 men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

“It’s tough, we had some chances but those guys made some good pitches to get them out of it and not let us score,” Cain, who allowed three runs on six hits over 6 1/3 innings, told reporters. “We just came up a little short and I made a bad pitch and it cost us.”

Cain fell to 0-3 in four career starts at Busch Stadium, one of only two NL parks in which he hasn’t won.

Lohse, whose .842 winning percentage (16-3) was the best in baseball during the regular season, gave up one run on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings to get the win.

The Giants scored their lone run in the top of the third inning, when Angel Pagan singled, moved to third on a double by Marco Scutaro and scored on a groundout by Pablo Sandoval.

Carpenter’s Homer

The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the inning as Jon Jay singled off Cain with two outs and Carpenter followed with his homer over the right-centerfield wall. The 429-foot blast was the second-longest postseason homer hit at Busch Stadium since the 2006 season.

Carpenter had taken over in right field after Beltran strained his left knee in the first inning. Tests taken after the game showed no structural damage for Beltran.

The Giants had two runners on base with one out in the seventh inning before Cardinals reliever Mitchell Boggs struck out Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. Pence went 0-for-4 and is 5-for-31 in the postseason.

“I’m the goat today, I didn’t get the job done in big opportunities,” Pence told reporters.

With a steady rain falling, the Cardinals added another run before the delay in the seventh inning when Freese doubled with one out and scored on a groundout by Shane Robinson.

Motte then came out of the bullpen to shut down the Giants and record his second save of the NLCS.

“You hate to have a long delay like this, but it’s part of the game and both teams have to deal with it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We couldn’t do much after the rain delay, but they brought in a pretty good pitcher.”

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