The San Francisco Giants held on to win the third game of the series with St. Louis, and the first of three at home, by the same score they lost the second game: 5-4.
The Giants scored four runs with two out in the first inning and held a 4-0 lead into the fourth, but by the late innings the Cards had tied it up at 4-4. A throwing error in the bottom of the tenth provided the winning run. The Giants are up in the series two games to one.
The Giants needed to win this game, and they got through it by the skin of their teeth. Pence and Sandoval had solid hits, and Ishikawa might well have had another improbable grand slam except for the wind. But after that first inning their bats went dead.
After a brilliant play by Sandoval in the top of the tenth, the Giants scraped together baserunners in unlikely fashion. They got the throwing error gift but they were well positioned to score the winning run that inning anyway.
Still, they are not hitting and producing many runs. That may not get it done over seven games. Without an unusually strong performance by their starting pitcher, the Giants are vulnerable.
Ryan Vogelsong goes tomorrow. The Giants will need another very strong outing from him, and he's capable of it. But neither Peavy nor Hudson were as strong in this series as the last, so the Giants can't count on a shutout. The Cards even without their best hitter (Molina, who didn't play) have more pop in their lineup right now. The Giants need at least two guys in their lineup to get extra-bases hot: Pence, Sandoval, Posey, Belt or even Panik, whose bat has gone frigid.
You have to tip the cap to Gregor Blanco. He's an abysmal hitter in the leadoff spot but he takes advantage of his strengths: his fielding and his speed. He worked hard to get the bunt down against a tricky pitcher, and his speed probably had a lot to do with the throwing error that won the game.
Now this fourth game becomes the key game. If the Giants win this one you have to like their chances, especially with Bumgarner coming to the mound. If they lose, the percentages may still favor them but the Cards have more ways to win working right now.
Later: the Kansas City Royals jumped over the Orioles 2-1 to take a 3-0 in the American League series.