San Francisco Giants
St. Louis Cardinals
National League Championship Series
8:07 p.m. EST
That Tim Lincecum would be taking the mound for a pivotal playoff game for the San Francisco Giants wouldn't have seemed a strange thing at all before the 2012 season began. Based on Lincecum's in-season struggles (10-15 with a 5.18 ERA), however, Giants manager Bruce Bochy is taking a leap of faith by giving him the ball.
Already trailing 2-1 in the best-of-seven series, the Giants are counting on the player who had a 1.42 ERA over 6.1 innings of relief work in the NLDS as opposed to one who struggled so mightily during the 2012 campaign that he wasn't initially given a spot in the playoff rotation.
"He's a guy we want out there. He's been throwing the ball well," Bochy told The Associated Press before Game 4. "We've got to bounce back."
Even at his best, the two-time NL Cy Young winner would have his work cut out for him against this Cardinals lineup. Through nine postseason games, St. Louis is averaging more than five runs per game and has topped six runs on five occasions. Of course, the majority of that production has come with Carlos Beltran at the heart of the batting order. After suffering a knee strain early in Game 3, Beltran is not in the lineup for Game 4.
Can the Cardinals stay hot without Beltran? Will Lincecum continue his resurgence?
SCROLL DOWN FOR LIVE UPDATES THROUGHOUT THE GAME
To bring some local flavor to our Game 4 live blog, HuffPost Sports has invited our Infographic Design Editor Chris Spurlock, who was born and raised about 30 miles west of St. Louis, to chime in on behalf of Cardinals fans and Chris Anderson, a Senior Editor at HuffPost, to represent Giants fans.
Four Cards with two hits as the team racked up 12 overall in an all-around team effort at the dish. They just kept the line moving, scoring in 4 of the 8 innings they came to bat.
Even if the Giants pitchers had kept this one closer, Adam Wainwright was just too good tonight. He allowed just four hits over seven and his curve was filthy.
CS: Thanks for hanging out with us, everybody! Go Cards!
CA: Too little too late boys, but thanks for at least putting up a couple more notches on the board. Here's hoping Zito can extend the series next game.
I just said those words.
Cards dominated this game and the Giants played too poorly to expect to win a game in the NLCS.
Fireworks at Busch Stadium after Pence pops out. That's a commanding 3-1 lead in the NLCS.
CS: And...that's a winner! Three down, one to go!
Sanchez grounds out to finish off his terrible night.
Sandoval cracks a two-run homer and it's n 8-3 game.
Salas back on the bump. Scutaro leads off the ninth with a hit...
CA: What a comeback this will be! Greatest ever! Scutaro will get a hit, Posey will get on base then Posey will hit a 8-run homer to tie it!
It will happen.
Lopez works an uneventful home eighth and we're on to the nnth.
CS: With this lead, I assume no Jason Motte. That won't stop me from posting this, though:
Lopez mopping for Giants. He strikes out Jay (but Sanchez has to throw him out after being unable to handle pitch) to open the home eighth.
This probably looks about right to Giants hitters..
Salas makes quick work of the Giants in the eighth, inducing fly outs from Arias and Pagan after he got Huff swinging.
CA: @CS, unless he traveled back in time and spiked Tim Lincecum's punch or something, then no, not that one.
After seven sterling frames from Wainwright, Fernando Salas is on the hill for the Cardinals. He gets Huff swinging to open the eighth. Arias steps in.
CS: @CA, I assume you're referring to former Cardinals pitcher Braden Looper?
Wainwright is pulled for pinch-hitter Shane Robinson after that run. It's 8-1 after seven.
CA: Anybody see "Looper"? I haven't had the chance to see it yet, but I hear its great. Its got that kid that looks like Bruce Willis trying to kill Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis is awesome.
He drives in the Cards' seventh run of the night by driving a ball to shallow left. Yadi trots home and Kozma stops at first.
Affeldt bounces a change that Sanchez can't track and Yadi moves to third. It's a full count to the Koz with a runner at third.
|@ sportscaddy : The Giants are going through pitchers like a drunk goes through beers. And in both cases, life does not get better.|
|@ tim_trokey : Yadier Molina with 61 career postseason hits, tying Jim Edmonds for 2nd most in #STLcards history (Pujols - 88). #12in12|
Freese works count full against Mota. There are no outs and a runner at second. Mota wins protracted battle. Affedlt coming in next..
CA: I just simultaneously watched Blanco fall on his ass, and Alex Smith throw an interception at the goal line.
It all just doesn't make sense.
Yadi blisters a ball down the left-field line and it rattles around in the corner as Craig comes all the way around. It's 7-1 to St. Louis. Rally towels being waved in St. Louis. Channels changing to 49ers game in San Francisco.
CS: YADI IS BAAAAAACK!
Mota knocks down Craig with high-inside sinker that didn't sink. He pulls the next pitch to third. Great diving stab by Panda but throw pulls Posey off the bag. Craig. is safe. One on, no outs. Molina up.