Cardinals channel history, blow 3-1 NLCS lead

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Cardinals channel history, blow 3-1 NLCS lead

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong's first pitch -- the first of many biting two-seam fastballs -- sparked a three-strikeout inning and sent a message to the Cardinals that they were in for a long night. St. Louis became just the fourth team ever to take a 3-1 LCS lead and go on to allow a Game 7.

The strange part about it? They've done it before.

Sixteen years ago in 1996, the Cardinals jumped out to a 3-1 series lead over the Atlanta Braves in the NLCS, but John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and the Braves chopped their way back to steal the series.

After their 3-1 loss in that year's Game 6, the Cardinals were done. They barely showed up for Game 7, which they lost by a score of 15-0 after the Braves scored six times in the opening frame.

This year, it was a 6-1 loss that forced Game 7, and it wasn't Maddux who delivered the gem -- it was Ryan Vogelsong.

"They have a good team over there," Yadier Molina said, "a good lineup."

Vogelsong pitched Sunday as if he felt the opposite of the Cardinals. He took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and struck out six of nine his first time through the lineup en route to a career-high nine strikeouts. He has St. Louis' full attention.

"Sometimes pitching gets the better of you," Jon Jay said after an 0-for-4 night in the leadoff spot. "Vogelsong did a good job tonight. You have to turn the page."

"He was in complete control of what he wanted to do tonight," Matt Carpenter acknowledged.

"He worked his fastball on both sides of the plate," Pete Kozma said. "He had good breaking pitches. He did a good job tonight."

Yadier Molina's scouting report was similar: "He was moving the ball pretty good. He was sinking and moving it. It was the same (as Game 2)."

Molina's prognosis was on point.

Vogelsong completed seven innings, allowing one earned run on four hits, just as he did in the Giants' Game 2 victory at AT&T Park.

"It hurts," said Kozma, whose error contributed to the Giants' four-run second inning.

His double play partner -- who took a ground ball off the cheek later in the game -- turned the page toward the decisive Game 7.

"We've got to be ready for anything," Daniel Descalso said. "We've just got to play our game. We are not going to come out here and roll over."

The Cardinals have already survived two elimination games this year, ousting the Braves in the NL Wild Card game and eliminating the Nationals after trailing Game 5 of the NLDS 6-0 through three innings.

"Tomorrow is going to be a great game," Jay said. "They have their ace and we have our guy."

Matt Cain vs. Kyle Lohse for a berth in the 2012 MLB World Series at 5:07 p.m.

For the fifth time Sunday night, the Giants staved off elimination with a win, when a loss would have ended their season. But for the first time, they treated their hometown crowd to the show, as all four previous elimination wins came on the road.

It was the first time in MLB history a team won four consecutive elimination games on the road.

The Giants look to stave off elimination for a sixth time Monday night in Game 7.

History is on their side. Since 1975, 14 home teams have won a Game 6 to force Game 7 and all but one of those teams went on to win Game 7.

Channeling the '96 Braves for six first-inning runs wouldn't hurt.

Since the seven-game LCS format was introduced in 1985.

Former Giants OF Gregor Blanco agrees to deal with NL West rival

Former Giants OF Gregor Blanco agrees to deal with NL West rival

After five seasons with the Giants, outfielder Gregor Blanco has a new home.

The veteran outfielder has agreed to a minor league deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to his agent Wilfredo Polidor.

The deal includes an invitation to spring training.

The deal includes a $1 million base salary if Blanco makes the major league roster, according to SB Nation's Chris Cotillo. Blanco has a chance to earn an addition $2.7 million in performance-based incentives and has an opt-out of April 1 in the deal.

Shortly after Polidor made the announcement, Blanco thanked the D'backs on Twitter for the bringing him to the organization.

"Thanks to the @Dbacks for let me part of a dream the same dream I got another ring another championship let's all dream together we can doit," Blanco wrote.

Blanco bounced around from Braves to the Royals from 2008 to 2010, but found a home with the Giants prior to the 2012 season.

Over five seasons with the Giants, Blanco appeared in 649 games. He hit .259/.338/.360 with 244 runs scored, 78 doubles, 24 triples, 19 home runs, 157 RBI and 75 stolen bases.

President Obama pardons Giants legend Willie McCovey

President Obama pardons Giants legend Willie McCovey

President Barack Obama pardoned Giants Hall of Famer Willie McCovey on Tuesday.

McCovey, along with Dodgers Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider, pleaded guilty to tax fraud in July of 1995. The crime came from not reporting income McCovey earned from signing autographs and appearing at sports memorabilia shows. 

McCovey previously pleaded guilty to not listing $70,000 he made from 1988-90, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Through the Giants, McCovey said: "I want to express my sincere gratitude to President Obama not only for this kind gesture on my behalf, but also for his tireless service to all Americans. He will be deeply missed and I wish him all the best in the future."

The 79-year-old McCovey was one of 64 people who received pardons from President Obama Tuesday as his final days in office wind down.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.