Giants

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.

Report: Veteran opts out of minor league deal with Giants

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USATSI

Report: Veteran opts out of minor league deal with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have taken flyers on plenty of veterans this season. A player they once hoped would help fill the outfield void won't finish the season with the organization. 

Melvin Upton Jr. opted out of his minor league deal, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Per Heyman, Upton Jr. is hoping to find a late-season job with a contender. 

The 33-year-old signed a deal with the Giants in April and it looked a good bet that he would get a shot for a team that has spent most of the season looking for an everyday left fielder. But Upton Jr. didn't play a game for the River Cats until July 1, and after that he needed an additional five weeks to rehab a sore shoulder. In 12 games in Triple-A, he hit .244 with one homer. 

The Giants have had 13 players get an at-bat in left field, with a combined .246 average and .657 OPS. 

Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

In what was set up to be a pivotal matchup of the game turned into a heated exchange.

Buster Posey stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday against Phillies closer Hector Neris.

But Posey never got to swing the bat. On the first pitch, Neris drilled the Giants catcher in the ribs with a 95 MPH fastball.

Posey whinced in pain and as he walked to first base, he appeared to ask Neris if the pitch was on purpose.

After the game, Posey was asked about the kerfuffle.

"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose. And it's just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat and he's got good stuff. But I guess he didn't feel like he could get me out," Posey told reporters after the game.

Posey was asked if he could think of any incidents in previous games against the Phillies that could have led to the hit-by-pitch. He said no and asked the reporters if they could think of anything.

Posey's comments were brought to Neris after the game.

"It's stupid because nobody who watched that said, 'Oh he hit him on purpose in that situation,'" Neris told reporters, according to the Philly Inquirer.

Posey and Neris have faced each other just one time in the past. In the ninth inning of the June 3 matchup in Philadelphia, Posey flew out to left field.