Cardinal error gives Giants win, series lead
SAN FRANCISCO - A throwing error by St. Louis pitcher Randy Choate allowed San Francisco to score the winning run Tuesday in a 5-4 Major League Baseball playoff triumph over St. Louis.
With the 10-inning triumph, the host Giants took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series with games four and five in San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday.
The winner will face either Kansas City or Baltimore in the World Series.
After taking a 4-0 lead in the first inning, the Giants managed one more hit off St. Louis pitching over the next eight innings as they watched the Cardinals rally to level the score and force extra innings.
"It's intense," said San Francisco's Hunter Pence. "These games are battles. It comes down to the little things."
In the 10th, St. Louis inserted left-hander Choate to pitch and he opened by walking Brandon Crawford. Juan Perez followed with a single to left field that advanced Crawford to second base and brought Gregor Blanco to the plate.
Blanco tapped a sacrifice bunt to the pitcher that advanced the runners, but Choate's throw to first base was off target and sailed into foul territory while Crawford raced home with the deciding run.
"A little unconventional but we will take them any way we can get them," said Crawford.
"I knew I had to get on base. Fortunately, I was able to get a walk. Blanco made him make a tough play and the throw went wide."
"I was a little rushed and I said to myself, 'Just put it down.' It was just there. I never expected he would throw a bad ball to first base.
"It was awesome. That's who we are. We battle every single time. We play every single game like it's our last. That was a good win."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was matter-of-fact after the error ruined hours of fighting back.
"It comes down to getting the little things right," he said. "We just didn't make the play. Randy is a good player. Errors happen. That's it."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy admitted after the tense finish: "I'm a little delirious. These are hard-fought games."
The Giants scored four runs with two outs in the first inning to break open the game, only to have the Cardinals pull even in the seventh.
Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval singled and Pence followed with a double to right field that plated Posey. After Brandon Belt was intentionally walked to load the bases, Travis Ishikawa doubled off the right-field wall to drive in three more runs.
St. Louis answered in the fourth when Kolten Wong blasted a two-out, two-run triple off the right-field wall to trim San Francisco's lead to 4-2.
The Cardinals pulled within a run in the sixth when Jon Jay singled, advanced on ground outs by Matt Holliday and Matt Adams and scored on Jhonny Peralta's single to left field.
Randall Grichuk pulled the Cardinals level with a solo homer to left field in the seventh, knocking Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson out of the game.
Eight of 12 St. Louis playoff homers this month have come in the seventh inning or later.