Marco Scutaro drove in two key runs before leaving with an injury on Monday as San Francisco defeated reigning champions St Louis 7-1 to level their National League Championship Series.
The best-of-seven series, deadlocked at 1-1, shifts to St Louis for three games today, tomorrow and Friday. The winners face either the New York Yankees or Detroit in the World Series.
It was the first home victory of the playoffs for the Giants, who dropped two games at home to Cincinnati in the previous round and the series opener to St Louis on Sunday.
Giants starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong allowed only one run in seven innings, scattering four hits, while walking two batters and striking out four on a night when San Francisco’s sluggers pounded out 12 hits and plenty of runs.
“It feels better getting one here rather than going in there down 0-2,” Vogelsong said. “They are a great hitting team. I was just making pitches.”
San Francisco’s Angel Pagan blasted a solo homer in the first inning to open the scoring, but the Cardinals equalized in the second when Pete Kozma walked and scored on a double by St Louis pitcher Chris Carpenter.
San Francisco scored four runs in the fourth inning to seize command, the first of them crossing home plate on a throwing error by Carpenter.
Scutaro added a bases-loaded double to drive in two runs and a fielding error by Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday allowed a third San Francisco runner to score on the play, giving the Giants a 5-1 lead.
“Early runs are important,” Pagan said. “They tie it up, and we put a few more up and that was important.”
Scutaro, the Giants’ second baseman, was removed from the game and later taken to hospital for an MRI exam on a left-hip injury that he suffered in the first inning on a fielding play when he was struck by a sliding Holliday.
Scutaro’s teammates chose their words carefully when asked if Holliday’s slide into Scutaro was an improper play.
“He hurt Scutaro a little bit, but we will be coming back in Game 3 and come out playing hard,” Pagan said.
“I don’t think that’s for us to worry about,” Vogelsong said. “It’s for us to go out and win three more games.”
One night after an umpire in the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Detroit made an incorrect call on a runner getting back to base before being tagged out, a similar controversy occurred in San Francisco.
Giants’ base runner Gregor Blanco appeared in television replays to be tagged out trying to return to first after a diving fly-out grab by Jon Jay in the eighth inning, but Blanco was ruled safe by first-base umpire Bill Miller.
Aubrey Huff and Pagan followed with singles to load the bases and Ryan Theriot hit a single to left-field that brought home Blanco and Huff, boosting the Giants’ lead to the final margin.