As Kansas City Royals confirmed their place as the American League’s representative at the World Series, the NLCS edged closer to a winner after the San Francisco Giants took a 3-1 lead over St Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park.
The Giants grabbed a 6-4 victory thanks to a three-run swing in the sixth inning which took advantage of some lapse St Louis defence.
The result means San Francisco can seal their third World Series berth in five years with victory tomorrow in their own backyard. For the Cardinals to overcome the deficit they must win every remaining game in the series.
The game was decided in the sixth and with the Giants trailing 4-3 some quick-thinking offence disrupted the Cardinals rhythm and forced errors.
Juan Perez began the frame with a leadoff walk from pitcher Marco Gonzales. Brandon Crawford then sneaked a single and pinch-hitter Matt Duffy provided a sacrificial bunt to move his men to second and third.
The Giants then showed their mettle in the big plays when Gregor Blanco’s ground trickled towards first baseman Matt Adams. Perez took on Adam’s arm and scrambled home with a headfirst dive which denied catcher Tony Cruz a clean take.
With the game tied the Cardinals quickly got their second out after Joe Panik hit another grounder to Adam but panic ensued in the Cardinals defence.
The first baseman clearly felt he could get the third out with some quick thinking but it went horrifically wrong. After not checking Crawford at third, he wildly threw off target to second base in an attempt to get Blanco. Crawford scampered home to give the Giants the lead and the Cardinals were left staring at one another.
Pitcher Gonzalez was relieved by Seth Maness who was able to get Buster Posey on a 0-2 count but the Giants batter smashed the next pitch into left-centre field to see Blanco home.
St Louis had no response as the Giants defence cleared out the final three innings without trouble.
San Francisco Giants are a real force at home in October. In 2014 they have only lost one postseason game at AT&T Park (NLDS Game 3 v Nationals) and possess Major League's best-home record in the NLCS of 15-5, which includes a five-game winning streak, according to MLB.com.
If the Giants are able make it six-in-a-row tonight it will confirm their National League Championship crown for 2014 and end their home-stand on an almighty high.
Game 5 is expected to host a rematch between Game 1 pitchers Madison Bumgarner (Giants) and Adam Wainwright (Cardinals).
Bumgarner took the victory in Game 1 with his 7 2/3 inning shutout in which he leaked just four hits, whereas Wainwright has looked out of sorts in October.
The 33-year-old has conceded a 8.00 ERA in his two postseason appearances this year compared to his tight 2.38 ERA in the regular season which reaped a 20-9 record.
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