ST. LOUIS • An unexpected replacement and an unrelenting rain ruled Wednesday night at Busch Stadium.
The Cardinals used both as part of an aggressive approach to seize control of the National League championship series.
An emergency sub for injured outfielder Carlos Beltran early in Game 3 of the NLCS, Matt Carpenter reversed a one-run deficit into a lead with a two-run homer in his first at-bat. The Cardinals added on and then held to it for a 3-1 victory against the San Francisco Giants at Busch Stadium. The rain interrupted the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, but that inspired the Cardinals to go straight to the closer, Jason Motte, for the final six outs of the game.
Motte pitched a perfect two innings for his third save of the postseason.
The win moves the Cardinals ahead, 2-1, in the best-of-seven series against the NL West champ Giants. Game 4 of the series will be Thursday night at Busch. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. St. Louis time.
"Every win is big," Motte said.
Beltran was lost to the Cardinals after the first inning when he tried to leg out a groundball and avoid the double play. He was unsuccessful, and he hit the bag awkwardly enough to twist his left knee.
The Cardinals ruled that Beltran sprained the knee and he is day to day.
"It was definitely a surprise," Carpenter said about going into the game in the second inning. "I didn't even realize that Carlos had hurt himself. Next thing you know Mike came up to me and told me to grab my glove and I was going in right field. So there was really no thought process, it just happened so quickly. I was in the game before I really had time to think about it."
Carpenter came immediately into right field, and in his first at-bat against Giants starter Matt Cain connected for his first postseason home run. That improved Carpenter to five-for-five in his career against Cain, who pitched a perfect game earlier this season. Cain was superb otherwise. He held the Cardinals to two runs on four hits, and he could have easily had the lead.
His teammates failed to capitalize on Kyle Lohse's generosity.
The Cardinals' righty allowed 12 baserunners -- seven on hits and five by walks. Yet he bobbed and weaved and dodged around trouble all evening. At one point he faced two Giants on base in five consecutive innings, and yet they only nicked him with one run. It scored on a groundout. The Giants left 11 runners on base and they went zero-for-seven with runners in scoring position.
"We had our chances," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We left too many men on base. This is a frustrating game for the fellas because they really did a good job. We just couldn't keep the line moving or get a productive out along the line."
Lohse (2-0) got the win because of Carpenter's homer.
The game was delayed for longer than it took play.
With the Cardinals in the midst of a rally in the bottom of the seventh inning, a series of thunderstorms bowled through St. Louis and over Busch Stadium. The teams were ushered off the field with two Cardinals on base, two out, and a two-run lead. It was another 3 hours, 28 minutes before the players would take the field again.
That prompted an aggressive decision by Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. Having already used seventh-inning righty Edward Mujica in the sixth and eighth-inning setup man Mitchell Boggs in the seventh, Matheny went straight to Motte for the six-out save after the delay.
Motte warmed up as they tidied up the field.
He entered to face the bottom of the Giants order with the two-run lead and he retired all six batters he faced.
The hardest hit ball was a sharp grounder by Marco Scutaro toward right field. A diving Carpenter cut it off and then flipped it to Motte for the second out of the ninth.
Carpenter had moved to first base earlier in the game.
It was that kind of night for him.
Game 3 set to resume with Cards leading, 3-1
While rain has washed out the other championship series game tonight -- the one over in the American League -- tonight's contest at Busch Stadium will resume.
The game is scheduled to restart at 9:05 p.m. St. Louis time with the host Cardinals lead, 3-1.
The Cardinals and Giants have waited out a delay of more than three hours. They have sat in the clubhouse during the rain longer than they were on the field to play the first seven innings of the game.
When the game resets, the Cardinals will have leadoff hitter Jon Jay at the plate, two runners on base, and two outs. Shane Robinson has already driven in a run this inning.
The Giants did make a pitching change immediately for the delay.
Starter Matt Cain is out of the game, and reliever Javier Lopez has been announced as his replacement. Due to rain-delay rules, Lopez does not have to face a batter, per Major League Baseball. He is however announced as having entered the game.
Rain delays game with Cards leading 3-1
The severe thunderstorms that were expected all afternoon to impact this afternoon's Game 3 at Busch Stadium finally arrived just after the Cardinals found a way to extend their lead to 3-1.
Shane Robinson, who was part of a double switch in the seventh inning, grounded out with the bases loaded to drive home the Cardinals' third run of the game. That chased Giants starter Matt Cain from the game, but as the Giants made the pitching change the umpires used the break in play to call a weather delay.
Lightning split the sky a few minutes later.
The delay started at 5:38 p.m. St. Louis time.
Cain will have allowed three runs on six hits, and he's responsible for the two runners still on base for the Cardinals. Leadoff hitter Jon Jay will be at the plate when play resumes.
The Cardinals got from Lohse to this point with a series of intricate, perhaps unorthodox, and ultimately successful exchanges of relievers. Edward Mujica was brought in to handle the seventh inning, but when he allowed two quick singles Matheny went to the bullpen for Mitchell Boggs, the eighth-inning guy. That double-switch cost the Cardinals Mujica, Boggs, and first baseman Allen Craig with a one-run lead, the tying run at second, and the threat of rain.
Any of those could have shorthanded the Cardinals in the event of extra innings or a tie game.
Boggs made it work.
He struck out Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt on his slider to stranded two runners and push the Cardinals into the bottom of the seventh.
As we move into Hour 3 of the delay, it should be noted that Game 3 must be completed -- if not tonight, then some time tomorrow.
During the postseason, a game is only official and complete once all nine innings are played. If a game has reached its midpoint when the rain arrives, it will have to be completed before the next game -- in this case, Game 4 -- in a series can start.
Lohse yields 2-1 lead to bullpen
The Giants finally got Kyle Lohse out of the game. That doesn't mean they were able to get the game back from him.
San Francisco put two runners on base for the fifth consecutive inning against Lohse, and finally when he surrendered the ball to the bullpen that still wasn't enough for the Giants to flip the Cardinals' 2-1 lead. Trevor Rosenthal, the hotshot hard-throwing rookie, came in and finished the inning to strand the two runners and keep the Giants from tying the game or taking the lead.
Lohse pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed 12 baserunners. Seven reached by a hit, five came via walk.
From the second through the fifth inning, San Francisco was able to get at least two runners on base in each inning, and yet the Giants struck for only a single run. It scored on a groundout. Lohse maneuvered around trouble with two double plays and a series of groundouts.
A single by pitcher Matt Cain chased Lohse from the game in the sixth and put two runners on and two outs for leadoff man Angel Pagan.
This was the pitch sequence Rosenthal used against him:
98 mph -- ball
98 mph -- swing, miss
82 mph -- ball
99 mph -- foul
101 mph -- foul
100 mph -- groundout
Rosenthal's work to end the sixth brings the game to the Cardinals' firm of Mujica, Boggs & Motte, just as the thunderstorms creep closer to Busch Stadium. Mujica is out for the seventh inning.
Cain has been the opposite of Lohse -- limiting the baserunners but not the damage. Cain has held the Cardinals to two runs on four hits. The only runs came on a homer by Matt Carpenter, who didn't even start the game. Cain has done his work with minimal pitches, too. Lohse needed 107 to complete 5 2/3, and he got his final out on his 101st pitch.
Lohse tiptoeing around trouble
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse has found himself in trouble almost every inning he's thrown as the Cardinals hold a 2-1 lead through 4 1/2 innings.
But he's found a way out of it.
And now all of those escapes are official.
The Cardinals-Giants Game 3 of the NL championship series is now official (but not final!) as it traipses into the bottom of the fifth inning with the Cardinals leading. What that means is that the game will be resumed from the moment it stops should rain interrupt play. Unlike in the regular season, postseason games must be played through the entire nine innings. An official game only means that it will be picked up at that point after the delay or on another day -- but before the start of Game 4.
Lohse has been able to get it through his five innings of work, but not without inviting trouble from the Giants.
In the second inning, the Cardinals' righty walked two batters, but was able to take advantage of the opposing pitcher, Matt Cain, for a strikeout that ended in the inning. In the third, the Giants dinged him for a run but it could have been worse if not for a double-play groundout that Lohse enticed. In the fourth inning, a walk and a strikeout to the bottom of the order brought Angel Pagan up with a chance to seize the game. Pagan flew out to center.
And in the fifth, a leadoff single by Marco Scutaro -- yes, that Marco Scutaro, the Man Who Took On A Train And Won -- had to be negotiated around as well as a strategic walk to Buster Posey.
Again, a double play was Lohse's pal.
The righty got a double play from Pablo Sandoval to erase Scutaro on the bases, and that allowed the walk to Posey to then attack Hunter Pence, just as he did in the third inning. Pence grounded out.
Lohse has allowed one run on five hits through five innings. His pitch count has climbed as a result of all the action. He had thrown 81 pitches after four innings. He's needed 93 to get 15 outs from the Giants.
Thrust into lineup, Matt Carpenter delivers
Before the game, manager Mike Matheny was asked if he gave some thought to starting young utility fielder Matt Carpenter in Game 3 against the Giants Matt Cain. A Cy Young contender-caliber pitcher, Cain has yet to get Carpenter out in their few meetings. Carpenter was four-for-four coming into today's game.
Matheny said starting Carpenter was discussed.
Matheny said it was dismissed.
And then it was required.
Thrust into the lineup because of an injury Carlos Beltran (strained knee), Carpenter continued his success against Cain. Make it five-for-five. And Carpenter's timing was impeccable. With a runner at second base, two outs, and a 1-0 Giants lead, Carpenter was down 0-2 after two pitches from Cain. He worked his way back into the count, 2-2, and then connected on a fastball.
Carpenter drove the ball 421 feet and over the Cardinals' bullpen beyond right field to wrench the game back into the Cardinals' favor.
The two-run shot scored Jon Jay and gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead.
Lohse escapes inning with Giants ahead 1-0
The inning could have been worse after leadoff hitting Angel Pagan floated a single into the dead-zone in left center field and Marco Scutaro -- yes, Marco Scutaro, Mr. NLCS -- delivered a double that was set to cause problems for Kyle Lohse.
For many reasons the inning was threatening to tilt on Lohse and the Cardinals.
That was when Mike Matheny took a gamble.
He gave the Giants a base.
San Francisco had already taken three on their own, and the Giants led 1-0 when Pablo Sandoval bounced and RBI groundout to Pete Kozma. But with Scutaro on third and the other two bases open, Matheny opted to pitch purposefully around MVP candidate Buster Posey and dare No. 5 hitter Buster Posey to beat the Cardinals. An intentional walk of of Posey put two runners at the corners with only one out.
A fly ball and they lead 2-0. A hard grounder and they lead 2-0. An extra-base hit from Pence -- and he has been known to provide those from time to time against the Cardinals -- and the Giants would lead by 3-0.
Instead, Pence played into the plan.
He grounded out to shortstop Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso was able to turn the double play that got the Cardinals out of the inning trailing only by the run.
Beltran leaves Game 3 with knee strain
The Cardinals leading hitter this postseason, outfielder Carlos Beltran, was removed from the game before the second inning because of a left knee strain.
Matt Carpenter replaced him in right field to start the second.
Beltran, the leading hitter in slugging percentage in postseason history, chopped a grounder to second base in his first at-bat of today's NLCS Game 3. He extended on his run to first base when trying to beat the relay throw from second. It was at the base than Beltran's knee gave way.
Beltran has also been dealing with discomfort in his left hand. The veteran outfielder had his left handle swaddled in ice after Game 2 in San Francisco.
The Cardinals announced the injury during the bottom of the second inning, and the team has classified their switch-hitting star as "day to day."
Beltran entered the game batting .414 this postseason with three homers. He had two doubles in Game 2 of the series, and his two-run homer in Game 1 of the series was the difference in the Cardinals' victory.
Carpenter is four-for-four in his career against Giants starter Matt Cain. Earlier today, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said he wanted to try and find more opportunities to use Carpenter, who has been held back from games because he represents a source of production of power that Matheny would rather have available late in a game.
Game starts on time, trying to defy the forecast
At his usual time, Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse walked out the clubhouse, up the stairs of the dugout, onto the field, and toward the bullpen -- ready to take his warmups as planned.
There would be no delay in his preparation.
There would also be no delay in the start of the game.
The Cardinals and Giants are underway at Busch Stadium in Game 3 of the National League championship series despite hourly concerns that inclement weather was thundering its way toward St. Louis. Officials with Major League Baseball and both teams met before the game to view the radar, check forecasts, and discuss the merits of trying to squeeze today's game into the window between storms.
Both starters went through their normal preps as if to begin a normal game. The teams were introduced on time. And at 3:08 p.m. St. Louis time, Lohse delivered the first pitch. It's a lovely 68 degrees.
Storms are still expected to be in the area.
The idea is to get the game in before they arrive.
During the postseason, a game is only official and complete once all nine innings are played. If the game has reached its midpoint when the rain arrives it will have to be completed before a Game 4 in this series can start.
Managers discuss their rainy day plans
The teams were able to complete batting practice this afternoon at Busch Stadium, and now the field is being prepared as if for an on-time start for Game 3 of the National League championship series.
Both managers acknowledged they are looking at different options when it comes to what might happen if the game is delayed or postponed by rain.
The biggest concerns are starting pitchers in these spots.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy says he's been outwitted by the weather before and won't try any silliness with his starter. If the game begins on time, then Matt Cain will be the starter. He'll go as long as the weather or his production holds.
"We've already talked about the rain as the situation," Bochy said. "Right now it looks like both batting practices will get in. And really at this point we'll take a step at a time. As we get close to the game we'll look at the situation and we'll get with the umpires, both managers, GMs, and we'll talk about if we should the game or not.
"I've been caught before where you try to predict what's going to happen with the rain," Bochy continued. "It's a tough call. It's nature and it's unpredictable to what's going to happen. So Matt Cain will start the game if we start this game."
Manager Mike Matheny plans to take a similar approach, though he was less detailed in what he might do with starter Kyle Lohse in the event of inclement weather.
"That's part of being in the Midwest," he said. "We get this quite a bit. We understand that these guys do a good job of forecasting, but you never know for sure. The guys are coming in and getting prepared for the game and we'll make adjustments as they come. But right now there's obviously some weather in the forecast. But we'll just wait and see.. We know it's in the hands of the commissioner's office and see what they decide to do with it. But we're always thinking about possibilities, but right now not going too far down the road."
Cards starter Kyle Lohse headed to the bullpen at 2:35 for his routine pregame throwing session.
In the postseason, all games have to go at least nine innings, so if the game is started and then rains come, the game will be suspended and then completed when possible. There are no rain-shortened games in the postseason.
Scutaro back at second, batting second for Giants
After testing his injured hip during batting practice by taking grounders at second base and turning double plays, Giants infielder Marc Scutaro has been cleared to go for this afternoon's Game 3 of the NLCS.
"It was a pretty easy call," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "More than 50 percent. I was looking at maybe 70 to 80 percent that he would play today. I kept in touch with Dave Groeschner (Giants trainer), saw Marco yesterday before we traveled, and after talking to him I could tell in his eyes that he was a lot more optimistic about playing today.
"I, last night, felt 100 percent that he would be out there today."
Here is the Giants lineup for Game 3:
1. Angel Pagan, CF
2. Marco Scutaro, 2B
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
4. Buster Posey, C
5. Hunter Pence, RF
6. Brandon Belt, 1B
7. Gregor Blanco, LF
8. Brandon Crawford, SS
9. Matt Cain, RHP
MLB preparing for weather decision on Game 3
Major League Baseball officials and the umpires assigned to today's game will determine whether or not the threat of inclement weather or actual inclement weather is enough to delay or postpone the start of today's National League championship series Game 3.
During the postseason, it's the officials -- and not the teams -- that control the start of the game in these situations.
In the past the officials have been reluctant to start a game that could experience a weather delay within the early innings because of the impact it would have on the team's starting pitchers. MLB does not want to cost the teams a competitive advantage -- or, in effect, create one -- because of weather.
Tickets for today's game are good for Game 3 of the series, whenever Game 3 is played. Tickets are no longer printed with dates for that reason.
In 2006, during the World Series at Busch Stadium weather caused some ticket chaos, where tickets for Game 5 actually went for Game 4 and the fans with tickets to Game 4 were able to attend Game 5 and see the clincher for the Cardinals.
Baseball rewrote and affirmed the ticket policy after that.
Now tickets are good for the game they are assigned. Tickets for tonight's Game 3 will be good for Game 3, even if it is played tomorrow at the time originally designated for Game 4. The ticket tells you the game it's good for, not the date.
Scutaro starting, Cards going with same lineup
If Cardinals manager Mike Matheny was looking for a reason to shakeup his offense by inserting a new bat and perhaps moving Carlos Beltran to another spot in the lineup, he just wasn't looking for that reason.
Matheny continues to stick with the lineup that he's had for the better part of three weeks and for every game in this postseason.
From the Giants side, reports are that Marco Scutaro will start. Their lineup has not been posted at Busch Stadium, yet. Scutaro injured his hip in the much-celebrated collision with Matt Holliday at second base in Game 2 of this series. He was optimistic on Tuesday when talking with reporters about his availability for this afternoon's game.
Here is the Cardinals lineup:
1. Jon Jay, CF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF
3. Matt Holliday, LF
4. Allen Craig, 1B
5. Yadier Molina, C
6. David Freese, 3B
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B
8. Pete Kozma, SS
9. Kyle Lohse, RHP
Check back throughout the afternoon for news, notes, quotes, and various anecdotes from Busch Stadium. Cardinal Beat on STLtoday.com is your place for weather updates, game updates, and perhaps some iambic pentameter verse retelling of the action in ye olde seventh inning.