Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 10/23/12
SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy never had a feeling like the one he experienced on Monday. "I'm still numb," the Giants manager said. "These guys deserve all the credit. They were determined not to go home." Rallying from the brink of elimination in consecutive playoff series, San Francisco celebrated a second National League pennant in three seasons with a 9-0 triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS. The Giants erased a three-games-to-one deficit to eliminate the Cardinals. In the Division Series, San Francisco won three straight to oust the Reds after falling behind 0-2 in the best-of-five series. "Finding a way to get it done just makes this so special," Bochy said. "I know we were written off many times. But these guys were relentless in getting it done and they found a way." The Giants will meet American League champion Detroit in the 108th World Series, scheduled to start on Wednesday in San Francisco. The probable Game 1 pitching matchup is Tigers ace Justin Verlander vs. Barry Zito. World Series champs in 2010, the Giants will have home field for the best-of-seven Fall Classic as the franchise qualifies for the World Series for the 19th time overall and the fifth time since moving to San Francisco from New York in 1958. The Cardinals, winners of last year's World Series, ran out of comebacks. They lost in an elimination game for the first time in seven tries extending back to 2011. "We've got a special group of players on our side who have overcome a lot of obstacles and who did a lot of things that people didn't think they could do," St. Louis rookie manager Mike Matheny said. "It wasn't how we scripted it to finish, but it was certainly a great run that these guys need to be very proud of." Sergio Romo got Matt Holliday to pop out for the final out of the game, which ended with rain pouring down at soaked AT&T Park. The ball landed in the outstretched glove of second baseman Marco Scutaro, who was named the Most Valuable Player of the series. "Just to be part of this team, to be in the playoffs and to have the opportunity to live this experience is unbelievable," Scutaro said. "Now we're going to be in the World Series." The veteran who was knocked out of Game 2 on a controversial slide by Matt Holliday, went 14-for-28 in the series with 17 total bases, three doubles and four RBI. "I don't know if it's possible for him to raise his game, but that's how well he played," Bochy said of Scutaro, a late season acquisition from Colorado. "He was just determined to get to the World Series. He led us there." The Giants scored all but two of their runs Monday in the first three innings, highlighted by a five-run third in which they chased St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse and took advantage of subpar defense. Meanwhile, Matt Cain wasn't dominating, but he was good enough to keep the visitors off of the scoreboard for his 5 1/3 innings (five hits, one walk and four strikeouts in 102 pitches). Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Romo followed to combine on the seven-hit shutout. "I think it says a lot about his makeup and how he competes," Bochy said of Cain. "It wasn't his best stuff, yet he got the win." St. Louis, which stranded 12 runners in Game 7, scored only one run over the final 28 innings of the NLCS. "We got to this point by being that team that was hot and taking advantage of opportunities," Matheny said. "But we just couldn't make it happen these last two games." San Francisco broke it open in the third, scoring five times for a 7-0 lead after having tallied once in each of its first two at-bats. The Giants sent 11 batters to the plate in the third. Hunter Pence greeted Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly with a sharp single to center with the bases loaded. Pence broke his bat on contact, and the ball actually hit his bat three times, putting a strange spin on it that spun it to the left of shortstop Pete Kozma. The play resulted in three runs and a 5-0 lead when Buster Posey raced around from first after Jon Jay bobbled the ball in center. "The baseball gods helped us with that ball," Bochy said. "You take those. You get breaks in this game and hope to take advantage of them." Posey had reached base on a walk that chased Lohse after the starter had allowed a Scutaro single and a Pablo Sandoval double to start the inning. With Pence on second, Belt got an infield single, a drive deflected by Kelly to second base. Following a full-count walk to Blanco, Brandon Crawford hit a roller to Kozma, who relayed late to catcher Yadier Molina in an attempt to force Pence. That made it 6-0, and Belt scored the fifth run of the inning when the Cardinals were unable to double up Angel Pagan on a grounder to short. "I don't believe we're here right now and I don't know if we would have got out of September if it hadn't been for Pete Kozma," Matheny said of the rookie, who replaced injured veteran Rafael Furcal. "He's been a tremendous shortstop for us." The Giants scored single runs in each of the first two innings to jump out 2-0. Pagan led off the San Francisco first with a single to right. Scutaro extended his postseason hitting streak to 10 straight with a hit-and-run single to right, chasing Pagan to third. Sandoval was fooled on a 1-0 curveball but managed a dribbler to the right of Lohse. The Cardinals' starter could do nothing more than throw to first as Pagan dove across home plate. Cain helped himself in the second by hitting a 1-1 slider just out of the reach of Lohse and into center field for a two-out single to score Blanco from second base. Blanco had reached on a one-out single and moved into scoring position on Crawford's fielder's choice grounder to first. St. Louis made Cain throw 58 pitches to work out of jams in each of the first three innings. Staked to a seven-run lead, Cain was more aggressive in the strike zone and faced only seven hitters between the fourth and fifth innings. He retired six straight after surrendering Molina's second single in as many at-bats to lead off the fourth. San Francisco tacked on insurance in the seventh when Gregor Blanco scored on a double-play ground ball, and Brandon Belt hit a solo homer with two outs in the eighth. NOTES: Matt Holliday was back in the St. Louis lineup -- hitting third and playing left field -- after getting scratched late from Sunday's Game 6 because of lower back stiffness. ... The Giants played their first deciding game of a postseason series at home since Oct. 16, 1962, when the New York Yankees beat San Francisco 1-0 in Game 7 of the World Series. ... San Francisco had lost all three Game 7s in its history since moving west from New York, falling to the Angels in the 2002 World Series and the Cardinals in the 1987 NLCS in addition to the '62 loss to the Yankees. ... The Cardinals had captured their last three Game 7s since losing to Atlanta in the 1996 NLCS.
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