Kolten Wong hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth, to break a 4-4 tie and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants 5-4, to take the second game in the National League Championship Series. Earlier in the inning, the Giants had tied the game in dramatic fashion, when pinch-runner Matt Duffy scored from second base when Trevor Rosenthal uncorked a wild pitch. On an unhappy note, Yadier Molina left the game with what was believed to be an oblique injury in the seventh inning.
The Cards opened up the scoring when Matt Carpenter hit his fourth home run of the postseason, leading off the third inning. Randal Grichuk drove in Matt Adams with a single in the third, to make the score 2-0. The Giants responded with one in the fifth on an infield grounder by Joaquin Arias, to score Brandon Belt, and one in the sixth when Gregor Blanco drove in Pablo Sandoval, to tie the game at two.
Oscar Taveras pinch-hit for Carlos Martinez, with one out in the seventh, and gave the lead back to the Cards with a solo shot, until there were two out in the ninth, and Duffy made his electrifying dash from second base to home on the wild pitch by Rosenthal. In a game decided by the bullpens, the Cards beat the Giants with the long ball, hitting three home runs to account for all but one of their four runs.
Lance lynn started and went five-and-two-thirds innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, with a walk and three strikeouts. He almost escaped the sixth inning, when he got two swinging strikeouts, quickly, before Pablo Sandoval put a ball right down the left field line that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double. Hunter Pence followed with an RBI single, and Brandon Belt struck out to end the inning.
Randy Choate got the final out of the sixth inning and began the seventh, being removed when he walked the leadoff batter, Brandon Crawford. Mike Matheny brought in Carlos Martinez and Michael Morse, batting for Travis Ishikawa, followed with an infield single. Juan Perez sacrificed them to second and third, leaving it up to Gregor Blanco. Blanco lined a run-scoring single to left field, driving in Sandoval, with the lead run.
Carlos Martinez finished out the seventh, and Pat Neshek pitched the eighth, retiring the side in order. Trevor Rosenthal came in to pitch the ninth, and began by striking out Brandon Crawford. Pinch-hitter Andrew Susac then singled, followed by another single by Juan Perez. After Blanco lined out to short, Joe Panik walked. When Rosenthal wild-pitched the ball to the backstop, Duffy alertly scampered home, tying the game with two outs. Sandoval ended the inning by striking out with the bases loaded.
Jake Peavy started for the Giants, and went four, giving up two runs on four hits, with three walks, one intentional, and two strike outs. He had some rough edges and Bruce Bochy removed him in the top of the fifth, when there were runners on second and third base, with one out. The move resulted in one run, when Arias grounded out to the right side, scoring Brandon Belt.
Jeremy Affeldt pitched the fifth and sixth, before Jean Machi came in to start the seventh, and gave up a leadoff home run to Mike Adams, Bochy removed him immediately for Javier Lopez who got the first two outs, before Bochy brought in Hunter Strickland to pitch to Matt Holliday. Before he could complete the at-bat, Strickland picked off Jon Jay on a 1-3-1-6-4 play, Strickland, to Belt, back to Strickland, on to Crawford, and finally to Joe Panik, who chased Jay down and applied the tag.
Sergio Romo came in to pitch the ninth and surrendered a leadoff home run to Kolten Wong to send the two teams back to San Francisco tied at one game apiece. The Giants had a total of ten hits, with Gregor Blanco being the only Giant with two.
The game was highly entertaining and came down to the last inning, when both teams managed to score, but the Cards came out on top by virtue of having the last at-bat. The series now moves to AT&T Park for Games 3, 4, and 5.
There were bright spots to go along with the tarnished, Susac’s pinch-hit in the ninth, Duffy’s scoring scamper, and Blanco’s clutch single among them. If you had asked the Giants how they would feel, coming back to San Francisco, with a split of the two in St. Louis, and they would have said to a man, that that was excellent.
Now they must focus on that which worked, ignore that which did not, and concentrate on taking care of business in the friendly confines of AT&T Park, so as to avoid a return trip to St. Louis.
Oct 27, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (4) cannot throw out Boston Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz (not pictured) at first base during the third inning of game four of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports