Cardinals fans optimistic as Giants' rotation thins

Dilip Vishwanat

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the San Francisco Giants 3-1 in Game 3 of the NLCS Wednesday evening to take a 2-1 series lead. Things looked bad for the Cardinals early on with Carlos Beltran leaving the game in the first inning with a balky knee, but his replacement Matt Carpenter's two-run bomb two innings later helped fans forget their worries.

Kyle Lohse did not have his best stuff Wednesday, allowing 12 base-runners in 5⅔ innings, but still managed to hold the Giants to just a single run. A 3½ hour rain delay -- half an hour longer than the game itself -- had no visible effect on Cardinals closer Jason Motte, who emerged from the delay to deliver a spotless six-out save.

For Tom S. of Viva El BIrdos, things are looking pretty good for the Cardinals now that the Giants have to put their fate in the unsteady hands of Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito:

The question at the outset of the series was whether Barry Zito or recent bullpen-condemnee Tim Lincecum would be picking up the start at the back end of the rotation. In a surprise move, the Giants have picked both of them.

After a Game 1 blow-up, Madison Bumgarner will (at best) find himself pushed back a start, or possibly making no further appearances in the NLCS. Weighing too heavily on a few bad starts seems like a serious hazard for a manager; weighing a few bad starts too heavily and choosing Barry Zito over an otherwise good starter seems like a poor choice.

Let's hope i'm proved right tomorrow. Tonight, we face Lincecum, with a chance to take a big lead in the series.

The Cardinals will send Adam Wainwright to the mound Thursday evening in Game 4 to take on Lincecum. Game time is set for 8 p.m. ET; the broadcast is on FOX.

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