Giants Force Game 7 in MLB’s NLCS With 6-1 Win Against Cardinals

The San Francisco Giants will host a decisive seventh game in the National League Championship Series after Ryan Vogelsong pitched them to a 6-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.

One day after Barry Zito and two Giants relievers combined on a 5-0 shutout, Vogelsong allowed only one run for the third straight start this postseason. San Francisco’s back-to-back wins tied the best-of-seven Major League Baseball playoff series at three games apiece.

Game 7 is today at AT&T Park in San Francisco, with the winner advancing to face the Detroit Tigers in the World Series.

“This place is going to be electric,” said Vogelsong, who had a career-high nine strikeouts in seven innings yesterday. “We’ve been through a lot and we’re not ready to go home yet. We seem to play better when our backs are against the wall.”

Pitcher Matt Cain gets the start for the Giants today and will be opposed by the Cardinals’ Kyle Lohse. It’s a rematch of the starting pitchers from the rain-delayed Game 3 of the NLCS, won 3-1 by St. Louis.

“We’ve got one game,” Cardinals third baseman David Freese said. “Both these teams don’t take the easiest road, but having this opportunity, we’re blessed for that. This is going to be a heavyweight bout and it’s going to be fun.”

The defending World Series-champion Cardinals have won six straight postseason games when facing elimination, tying the longest streak in MLB history. The Cardinals have an 11-4 all-time record in the deciding game of best-of-seven postseason series, while the Giants are a major-league worst 0-5 in Game 7.

Seventh Game

The last NLCS to go to a seventh game was in 2006, when the Cardinals beat the New York Mets and then went on to defeat the Tigers in the World Series.

The Tigers this year swept the New York Yankees 4-0 in the American League Championship Series.

San Francisco scored five runs in the first two innings last night against Cardinals starting pitcher Chris Carpenter.

After taking a 1-0 lead on a first-inning groundout by Buster Posey, the Giants pushed across four runs in the second inning, which was extended by an error by Cardinals rookie shortstop Pete Kozma. Marco Scutaro had a two-run double with two outs and Pablo Sandoval followed with a run-scoring single.

Carpenter gave up five runs -- two earned -- over four innings to fall to 0-2 in the playoffs this season.

Vogelsong allowed four hits and had a career-high nine strikeouts to improve to 2-0 with a 1.41 earned run average in his three starts this postseason. The only run he allowed last night came in the sixth inning, when Carlos Beltran doubled with two outs and scored on a single by Allen Craig.

‘Feel Comfortable’

“I just feel comfortable on the mound right now,” said Vogelson in a televised interview. “I was just trying to pound the zone and hit Buster’s glove as many times as possible.”

The Giants added another run in the eighth inning on a two-out, run-scoring single by pinch-hitter Ryan Theriot that slipped under Kozma’s glove. Giants relievers, meanwhile, allowed only one hit over the final two innings, with Sergio Romo getting the last three outs to close out the victory.

“Having this opportunity and being in the playoffs, that’s what you work for in the whole offseason and spring training,” said Giants infielder Scutaro, who’s hitting .458 (11-for-24) in the NLCS. “To be here, that’s priceless.”

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