Cardinals defeat Giants to take commanding 3-1 lead in NLCS

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The Cardinals are just one win away from joining the Tigers in the World Series.

Behind an excellent pitching performance from Adam Wainwright and a relentless attack from their offense, the Cardinals defeated the Giants 8-3 tonight and now own a commanding 3-1 series lead in the NLCS.

Wainwright had his curveball working tonight and limited the Giants to just four hits while striking out five and walking none. His only mistake was a solo homer by Hunter Pence in the second inning. He threw an efficient 70 out of 95 pitches for strikes before Fernando Salas pitched the final two innings.

The Giants were hoping Tim Lincecum’s success in the bullpen would lead to a big start tonight, but it just didn’t happen. He struggled with his command in the first inning en route to giving up two runs and was knocked out of the ballgame in the fifth. The Cardinals scored two runs in the sixth and seventh innings to put the game out of reach. Yadier Molina, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay all knocked in two runs apiece.

The Giants aren’t done, but it’s tough to have much confidence going into tomorrow night. Why? Well, Barry Zito will be tasked with keeping the Giants’ season alive after giving up two runs on four hits and four walks in just 2 2/3 innings in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Reds. Madison Bumgarner, who was banished to the bullpen following his Game 1 clunker, will be there to back Zito up if he makes another early exit. Lance Lynn, who gave up four runs over 3 2/3 innings in Game 1, will try to make sure the series doesn’t make it back to San Francisco.

Angels release Matt Harvey

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Among several transactions made on Sunday, the Angels announced that pitcher Matt Harvey has been released. The right-hander was designated for assignment on Friday.

Harvey, 30, was hoping to bounce back with the Angels after signing a one-year, $11 million contract in December. It didn’t work out. In 12 starts spanning 59 2/3 innings, Harvey allowed 47 earned runs on 63 hits and 29 walks with 39 strikeouts. Harvey missed time between May 24 and July 12 with an upper back injury.

Since his 2015 campaign with the Mets, after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Harvey has a 5.65 ERA in exactly 400 innings. Given his age, he could still find an opportunity with another team short on pitching depth, but he is running out of leash, as they say.