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St. Louis Cardinals third baseman David Freese says San Francisco is a great town, but he had hoped to not have to go back there this year. Back to the Bay Area is exactly where the St. Louis Cardinals are headed after the Giants got outstanding pitching from Barry Zito and shutout the Cards 5-0 Friday night in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at Busch Stadium.
St. Louis could never get anything going against Zito, who allowed six hits in 7 2/3 innings , striking out six. Cards starter Lance Lynn took the loss, giving up four unearned runs on four hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The pivotal point in the game came in the 2nd inning, when Yadier Molina started the inning with a base hit, then moved to third with no one out on David Freese's double. But Zito struck out Daniel Descalso and after an intentional walk to shortstop Pete Kozma, got Lynn to ground into a double play to end the inning and keep the game scoreless.
Lynn started the night with three innings of no hit ball, including five strikeouts, but came unhinged in the top of the 4th. After back to back base hits by Marco Scutaroand Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey struck out. But the next batter, Hunter Pence, hit a ball back to Lynn, who threw the ball into the second base bag and into the outfield as Scutaro came around to score the first run of the game.
With two out, Lynn walked Gregor Blanco before Brandon Crawford drove in two runs with a base hit that made it 3-0 Giants. Zito pushed a bunt down the third base line for an infield hit and a 4-0 Giants' advantage.
Sandoval clubbed a solo home run in the top of the 8th to make it 5-0 Giants, and relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo kept the shutout going after Zito left the game in the 8th.
Matheny says he didn't mind Lynn being aggressive trying to get an out at second base in that 2nd inning. "Kozma was in the right place. He just made a low throw, that's all there was to it. To do it over again, I'm sure he would have liked to take the easy out at first base and then try his luck on Belt. But it didn't work that way. It just kind of spiraled at that point in a hurry, and that was the game."
Matheny says Zito made pitches and didn't make many mistakes. "He was in the top of the zone, just above, on the edges, just off. He was moving in and out, back and forth, taking speeds off his breaking ball and changeup. That's what pitching is. You don't have to have 99 on your fastball if you can locate and keep hitters off balance, and we never got into a good groove."
Cards first baseman Allen Craig says his team wanted to take Game 5 at home, but it's focused on a return trip to AT&T Park. "It is what it is. We obviously wanted to win, but we have no problem going to San Francisco and putting up a better effort. We're looking forward to it."
Game 6 of the NLCS is Sunday night at AT&T Park. Chris Carpenter takes the ball for Matheny. He'll be opposed by Giants righthander Ryan Vogelsong. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.
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