Rain delay can't save Giants from Cardinals in Game 3

Fans watch as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina catches a pop-up by Giants pinch hitter Aubrey Huff...

Fans watch as Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina catches a pop-up by Giants pinch hitter Aubrey Huff during Game 3 of the NLCS at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo., Oct. 17, 2012. (JEFF HAYNES/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:02 AM ET

ST. LOUIS - The adage in baseball is that good pitching wins championships.

Someone should tell the San Francisco Giants that a clutch hit here or there wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Wasting a solid performance from Matt Cain, the Giants came up empty with runners in scoring position time and again and ended up dropping a 3-1 decision Wednesday evening to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

With the victory, the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series with Game 4 set for Thursday night.

The Giants felt the game was definitely one that got away.

“We felt it was an important game, no getting around it,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the Giants’ first post-season loss on the road this post-season. “And we got a great effort by Matt, really, he pitched well. Made that one mistake. He hung a slider there that went for a home run. And other than that he really pitched well. He gave us a chance to win and we had our chances.

“Like I said, we just couldn’t get that one more hit that really would have done a lot of damage. And you get guys on base, that’s what you’re hoping to do, and we did a good job of that tonight. But that one hit was just ... it just didn’t happen for us.”

The game, which started at 3:08 p.m. PDT, featured a rain delay of three hours and 28 minutes that started in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Heavy thundershowers were forecast for the late afternoon and they hit the ballpark late in the game with the umpires calling it quits at 5:28 p.m.

Bochy had just pulled Cain from the game with his team down 3-1 with two out and Cardinals runners at second and third.

The rain delay, though, didn’t aid the Giants chances.

Inning after inning the Giants squandered their opportunities and finished by going 0-for-7 with RISP and stranded 11 runners overall. They out-hit the Cards 9-6 but couldn’t get one when it mattered.

The biggest culprit on the night for the Giants was right fielder Hunter Pence, who went 0-for-4 at the plate. In the third, with runners on the corners and one out, he grounded into an inning-ending double play. He stranded another runner in the fifth. In the seventh, with two on and one out, he struck out.

“I definitely had some huge opportunities and didn’t cash in,” Pence said. “I had some big at-bats that hurt us.”

In the NLCS, Pence is 1-for-11 and without an run batted in. He bats fifth in the order. Not only is he not getting any production, he isn’t giving any protection for cleanup hitter Buster Posey.

“I’m the goat today. I didn’t get the job done in big opportunities,” Pence added. “I’m going to go home, learn from what happened and we’ve got a big game tomorrow and got to be hungry. We’ve got a lot of series left.”

After the game, Bochy said he’ll have discussions about moving Pence down in the order but there doesn’t seem to be any ready candidate to replace him.

“He’s the guy we want up there with men on base, knocked in over a hundred runs this year,” Bochy said. “He’s got to put this behind him like us and be set tomorrow.”

Bochy also answered one lingering question as to who will be his starting pitcher for Game 4 against Adam Wainwright. The answer is Tim Lincecum, who will be making his first post-season start of 2012.

St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse didn’t have his best stuff Wednesday evening, but when the right-hander had to make quality pitches he did.

Lohse, the ace of the Cardinals staff this season, became the first St. Louis starter to pitch into the sixth inning in the NLCS and was rewarded with the win.

Cain, meanwhile, gave up a two-run home run to Matt Carpenter in the third. Carpenter took over for Carlos Beltran, who injured his left knee in the first inning and is day-to-day.

The loss of Beltran could prove to be a big one for the Cards as he has raised his game in the post-season.

“Not exactly sure,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of how Beltran injured himself. “As he ran down (to first) in his first at-bat, something caught him in his knee. He came back down into the tunnel and we checked him out and he was not doing well.

“So, we’ll know more tomorrow for sure. But it’s a left knee and he’s had some issues on an off all season (with it), on and off his whole career.”

Given that Lohse was a little off with his location and they lost Beltran, it was a big win for the Cardinals.

With all their wasted opportunities, it was a bad loss for the Giants.


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