Tuesday, March 11, 2014
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Carpenter always tries to stay ready, keeping an assortment of gloves nearby. That's his job.
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Motte (30) and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) celebrate after the Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in Game 3 of baseball's National League championship series Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
The St. Louis Cardinals' utilityman took on a new role in Game 3 of the NL championship series: game-changer.
Carpenter hit a two-run homer after subbing for Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals chased Matt Cain before a 3½-hour rain delay in the seventh inning of a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.
"It was definitely a surprise," Carpenter said. "I didn't even realize Carlos had hurt himself, there was really no thought process.
"I was in the game before I had time to think about it," he said.
Beltran strained his left knee running out a double-play ball in the first inning and the Cardinals said he was day to day. He's had issues off and on with the knee throughout the season, but played in 151 games and had 619 at-bats, his most since 2008.
Kyle Lohse worked around a season-worst five walks in 5 2-3 innings. Mitchell Boggs struck out Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt with two on to end the seventh. Jason Motte earned the first two-inning save of his career to reward what remained of a sellout crowd of 45,850 that stuck around — perhaps a third — for a game that lasted 3 hours, 2 minutes, about a half-hour shorter than the delay.
"They said if we didn't score I was going to go out there. I was in the clubhouse running around, I've never really had to sit around like that," Motte said. "It was probably the most nervous I've ever been."
Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro had two hits and a clean game in the field, two days after Matt Holliday rammed him breaking up a double play. Manager Bruce Bochy had said there would be no retaliation, and Game 3 was collision-free.
"I'm sure he was gutting it out," Bochy said of Scutaro. "He was determined to play and made a pretty good recovery."
Bochy said Scutaro made the right play going to first on a run-scoring groundout by Shane Robinson that made it 3-1 in the seventh.
"Well, I don't think he had a play at home. It would have been close," Bochy said. "You can't have a better or smarter second baseman than Marco."
The big winners in a delay that featured about a half-hour without rain while officials awaited a second, smaller front: Beer vendors, by a single out. Alcohol sales are cut off after the seventh inning in all stadiums.
Cain lost for the second time this postseason, giving up three runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Giants, who entered the game batting just .217 in the postseason, were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
Pence, the Giants' fifth-place hitter, also grounded into a double play with runners on first and third in the third and grounded into a force play with a man on to end the fifth.
"I'm the goat tonight," Pence said. "I just didn't the job done."
The Cardinals snapped the Giants' five-game road winning streak in the postseason, three of them this year. Game 4 is in St. Louis on Thursday night, with Adam Wainwright pitching for the Cardinals. Tim Lincecum will start for the Giants.
"He's a guy we want out there. He's been throwing the ball well," Bochy said. "We've got to bounce back."
Bochy said lefty Barry Zito will pitch Game 5 against Lance Lynn, leaving lefty Madison Bumgarner out of the mix for now.
"I think we feel that it's time to give Madison a little break," Bochy said.
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