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.
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.