SAN FRANCISCO – Ryan Vogelsong and the San Francisco Giants sure have become adept at saving their season. To reach the World Series, they need to do it once more against the Cardinals, who have won six in a row when facing postseason elimination.
Vogelsong struck out a career-best nine in another postseason gem and San Francisco again staved off elimination, pushing St. Louis to a winner-take-all Game 7 tonight in the National League Championship Series with a 6-1 victory Sunday night.
“There are two teams in the same boat right now. You’ll see two teams go out and give it everything they’ve got,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said. “This is what we play all year for and we’ll put it all on the line. This is Game 7. …There are no more what-if scenarios.”
Turns out the defending champion Cardinals aren’t the only team tough to put away in October.
Marco Scutaro delivered a two-run double and Buster Posey drove in his first run of the series with a first-inning groundout as San Francisco struck early for Vogelsong.
San Francisco’s Matt Cain and St. Louis’ Kyle Lohse are scheduled to pitch tonight in a rematch of Game 3, won by the Cardinals. There’s a forecast of rain in the Bay Area during the day.
“It’s time to get it done,” Lohse said.
These wild-card Cardinals sure seem to like the all-or-nothing route in October, while San Francisco thrives playing from behind.
“Clutch performances are just guys playing normally in big spots. You can’t be petrified by the situation, and neither of these teams have been,” St. Louis’ Lance Berkman said. “… I don’t think either of these teams is going to choke it away.”
Five games with their season on the line, five wins for these gutsy Giants this postseason. Now, it comes down to one game for the past two World Series champs, with the Detroit Tigers waiting.
Pitching to chants of “Vogey! Vogey!” from the sellout crowd of 43,070 at AT&T Park, the right-hander didn’t allow a hit until Daniel Descalso’s broken-bat single to center with two outs in the fifth. Vogelsong struck out the side in the first and had already fanned five through two innings.
“This place is going to be loud, I can tell you that,” Vogelsong said.
Scutaro had no chance for a collision with Matt Holliday this time. In their first game back at AT&T Park since Holliday took out the second baseman with a hard slide in Game 2, Holliday was scratched about an hour before first pitch because of tightness in his lower back, and Allen Craig replaced him in left field.
It hardly mattered the way Vogelsong pitched.
The Cardinals managed their only run on Craig’s two-out single in the sixth.
Against St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter, the Giants mounted a four-run second inning.
Carpenter allowed six hits and five runs, two earned, in four innings.
“The bottom line is I’m not giving my team a chance to win,” Carpenter said.