It took over six hours — due to a rain delay that lasted more than three — but the Cardinals topped the Giants by a score of 3-1 on Wednesday evening in Game 3 of the NLCS at a wet Busch Stadium.
Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse was far from sharp, yielding seven hits and a season-high five walks, but the Giants failed to capitalize on multiple scoring chances and the St. Louis bullpen was again reliable. Jason Motte recorded a two-inning save, needing only 19 pitches to blow through the back and front ends of the punchless San Francisco batting order.
Matt Carpenter hit a third-inning two-run homer after coming in for the injured Carlos Beltran and outfielder Shane Robinson drove in the Cardinals’ third run on an RBI groundout in the bottom of the seventh.
Giants starter Matt Cain was pulled with two outs in the seventh — just before the rain struck — after allowing six hits and one walk. He struck out only two, matching his lowest strikeout total of the season.
The Cardinals will try to push ahead 3-1 in this best-of-seven series when Adam Wainwright squares off against Tim Lincecum in Game 4 on Thursday night. Beltran has a knee strain but might be able to play.
With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.
95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.
In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.
Both the Astros’ and the Yankees’ fates were decided before their own games had completed on Sunday. The Rangers defeated the Angels, which clinched a Wild Card spot for the Astros. Then the Astros dropped Sunday’s season finale to the Diamondbacks, which clinched the first AL Wild Card slot for the Yankees. The Yankees are on their way to a loss against the Orioles as of this writing, but that will not affect anything now.
The Astros were in a 3-3 tie with the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning, but reliever Chad Qualls served up a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt. That would prove to be the deciding factor in a 5-3 loss.
The Yankees are losing 7-4 to the Orioles behind a subpar start by Michael Pineda and a shaky performance by the bullpen.
The MLB postseason opens up with the Yankees hosting the Astros on Tuesday in the AL Wild Card game. The winner moves on to face the Royals in Kansas City in the ALDS.