Cardinals lead Giants after 3 innings of Game 4

Cardinals lead Giants after 3 innings of Game 4
October 18, 2012, 9:28 pm
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St. Louis Cardinals' Allen Craig is congratulated after his sacrifice fly ball to score Matt Carpenter from third during the first inning of Game 4 of baseball's National League championship series against the San Francisco Giants Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)


ST. LOUIS (AP) Allen Craig drove in his first run of the NL championship series and the St. Louis Cardinals roughed up Tim Lincecum early in his first start of the postseason, taking a 2-1 lead over the San Francisco Giants after three innings in Game 4 on Thursday.

The Cardinals, up 2-1 with a potential clincher in St. Louis on Friday, got first-inning contributions from three struggling players. Jon Jay, batting .167 in the postseason, led off with a single. After Matt Carpenter - subbing for Carlos Beltran who tweaked his left knee in Game 3 - walked, Matt Holliday singled to score Jay. Holliday also was hitting .167 for the NLCS.

Craig, 0 for 9 in the NLCS, lined out to center field, scoring to score Carpenter, though Angel Pagan prevented more damage with a shoestring catch.

Early trouble was nothing new for Lincecum - he allowed 28 first-inning runs this season, the most in the majors.

Hunter Pence, 1 for 11 coming in and dropped to sixth from fifth in the order, hit a 451-homer off Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright well over the left field bullpen in the top of the second to cut the St. Louis lead in half. It was Pence's first RBI in nine playoff games.

The Cardinals could have had more, leaving two on each of the first two innings. Holliday flew out to the warning track to end the second. Angel Pagan tripled with two outs in the third for the Giants but was stranded when Marco Scutaro bounced to Wainwright.

The former tow-time Cy Young Award winner Lincecum struggled through the regular season with a 10-15 records and 5.18 ERA - highest among qualifying starting pitchers. He had been much better in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 1.08 ERA in 8 1-3 innings prior to Thursday. But all of that was in relief.

Wainwright has topped 200 innings in his first season after missing all of 2011 following Tommy John surgery. He hasn't quite regained the form that allowed him to win a combined 39 games in 2009-10, going 14-13 with a 3.97 ERA. He was knocked around in his last start, allowing six runs in 2 1-3 innings in Game 5 of the divisional series against Washington, though the Cardinals' rallied from a 6-0 deficit to bail him out.