Giants avoid elimination again, push Cardinals to Game 7

SAN FRANCISCO -- Saddle up: The city of San Francisco on Monday will host its first Game 7 since the 1962 World Series, when Willie McCovey's screaming liner found Bobby Richardson's glove, and the Yankees broke their hearts.

Against the Cardinals on what promises to be an epic evening ... will a Buster Posey liner find the hole? Will Pablo Sandoval's grounder find a Cardinals' glove?

Thanks to Ryan Vogelsong, Marco Scutaro and Co., who pushed this series to the edge with a thrilling 6-1 Game 6 victory Sunday, we're left with more questions than answers in this NL Championship Series.

But we'll have some answers on Monday night.

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NLCS: Cardinals vs. Giants
ALCS: Tigers vs. Yankees

Sunday started out poorly for St. Louis, when No. 3 hitter Matt Holliday's misadventures in San Francisco continued. Last time here, he flattened Scutaro with what Giants manager Bruce Bochy maintained was an illegal slide. Sunday, Holliday was scratched from the lineup shortly before game-time with a stiff back.

Vogelsong took it from there with the game of his career. Pitching into the teeth of elimination while on his first postseason roster, the 35-year-old right-hander struck out a career nine and left after seven innings with the Giants leading 5-1.

Vogelsong opened the game by throwing 14 consecutive fastballs, producing one out, one walk and digging Carlos Beltran an 0-2 hole. Then, on the 15th pitch, Vogelsong downshifted to an 84 mph change-up, and Beltran swung right through it.

The moment crystallized the night: Vogelsong was aggressive, on and with just the right touch. The Cardinals were not. Chris Carpenter, more machine than man over so many of these October nights, rarely has looked more human. Pitching a second consecutive clunker in this NLCS for the Cards, eight of his first 11 pitches were balls. He surrendered all five runs over the first two innings.

The Cardinals defense was sloppy all evening. David Freese should have thrown Scutaro out at home on a first inning ground ball but couldn't dig the ball out of his glove. Matt Carpenter committed one error at first and missed a couple of other plays. Pete Kozma failed to knock down a grounder in the eighth that he should have, allowing the Giants to score their sixth run in the eighth.

By then, most thoughts were already racing ahead to Monday night, and the prospect of Game 7.

Saddle up. You never know where the line drives will land. It should be epic.

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