SAN FRANCISCO A couple of two-run homers by David Freese and Carlos Beltran, and a shutdown performance by the Cardinals' bullpen led St. Louis to a 6-4 win over the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday night at AT&T Park.
Starter Madison Bumgarner was generally ineffective in just 3.2 innings of work, while the Giants' offense scored four runs in the fourth inning but none in the other eight combined. San Francisco managed to keep the game interesting with a furious fourth after staking the Cardinals an early 6-0 lead, but a combination of six St. Louis relievers after starter Lance Lynns exit baffled the Giants hitters.
The Giants are still looking for their first home win of the postseason, after dropping the first two games of the NLDS to Cincinnati. They fell to 4-2 all-time in Game 1 of the championship series.
Starting pitching report
Neither the Giants Bumgarner nor St. Louis Lynn made it through the fourth inning, although Lynn was charged with just four runs to Bumgarners six.
Bumgarner was pulled in the fourth after he watched Beltrans two-out, two-run homer clear the fence in left field. All six Cardinals runs were earned, and came on eight hits surrendered by the San Francisco starter, who walked one and struck out two. It was a battle all night for Bumgarner, who also surrendered a two-run blast to Freese in the second inning that seemed to leave the yard in the blink of an eye.
Lynn, on the other hand, cruised through his first three before unraveling in the bottom of the fourth. Marco Scutaro got the Giants first hit to lead off the inning, but Lynn quickly struck out Pablo Sandoval and got Buster Posey to fly out to right. The Giants got four straight hits after that, though, and Lynns night was over after 3.2 innings, four earned runs, two walks and three strikeouts.
The Giants' bullpen was just as effective as the Cards, keeping St. Louis off of the board for 5.1 innings after Bumgarners exit. George Kontos came on in relief of Bumgarner in the fourth, and retired the one batter he faced. Tim Lincecum pitched a scoreless fifth and sixth before giving way to Jeremy Affeldt, while Santiago Casilla and Jose Mijares pitched a scoreless eighth and ninth, respectively.
Mitchell Boggs worked a 1-2-3 eighth before Jason Motte recorded the save, giving up only a two-out single to Angel Pagan. Edward Mujica was credited with the win.
At the plate
Gregor Blanco had the biggest hit for the Giants in the fourth, when his two-out triple to the deepest part of the field in right-center plated Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt. That was the highlight of the night for the Giants, however, who didnt score after that.
Scutaro was the only Giants player with more than one hit on the night, going 2-for-5.
St. Louis second baseman Daniel Descalso was 2-for-4, and no other Cardinals player had more than one hit.
In the field
Each clubs second baseman made a key defensive play.
After Lynn was pulled in the fourth inning in favor of Joe Kelly, Descalso kept the damage to a minimum when he made a diving stop on a grounder by Pagan and flipped it to shortstop Pete Kozma for a force out of Aubrey Huff, stranding Blanco on third.
With one on and one out in the top of the fifth and Lincecum pitching, Scutaro helped start a double-play on a sharp grounder up the middle by Freese.
Blancos sliding catch in the top of the sixth on Skip Schumaker with two out was arguably the defensive play of the game.
Sandoval committed the only error in the game on a bad throw to first base on Yadier Molinas grounder with one out in the top of the eighth.
Ryan Vogelsong will get the ball for the Giants opposing St. Louis Chris Carpenter in Game 2 on Monday, before the series shifts to Busch Stadium for games three through five.