Matt Carpenter's homer the difference in NLCS Game 3: Quick hits

Matt Carpenter hit a two-run home run in the third inning of Game 3 of the NLCS. (US Presswire)

ST. LOUIS -- There was more waiting to play than actually playing on Wednesday, but around the 3-hour, 28-minute rain delay, the Cardinals beat the Giants 3-1 to take a 2-1 series lead in the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals still have a chance to finish this series in St. Louis, with two wins needed in two more games here at Busch Stadium.

More playoff coverage
ALCS: Tigers vs. Yankees
NLCS: Cardinals vs. Giants

Hero: Maybe, yet again, it's just the Cardinals' year. Because you remove one of the game's all-time great postseason hitters and replace him with a guy who had just one postseason hit this year, and that guy, Matt Carpenter hits a two-run home run.

Goat: Hunter Pence might as well be in that seal costume if he's going to be nothing but a mascot during these playoffs. Given credit for inspiring the Giants' run through the Reds, Pence was 0 for 4 with five runners left on base on Wednesday. He's 1 for 11 in the NLCS and 5 for 31 in the postseason.

Turning point: Carpenter is a fine hitter, but he's no Carlos Beltran. Perhaps no player has been as good as Beltran in the postseason, so with the Cardinals down a run with a runner on second and two outs in the third inning, it appeared to be bad luck that it was Carpenter at the plate instead of Beltran. Instead, he sent a ball 421 feet into the Cardinals' bullpen in right field to give St. Louis the lead.

It was over when: It seems cliche, but it really was up until the last pitch before this game was both literally and figuratively over. A two-run lead is never safe, especially with the top of the lineup coming to the plate in the ninth inning, but Jason Motte got his first career six-out save to shut the door on the Giants.

Next: The two teams resume play on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

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