ST. LOUIS — Seth Maness gave the Cardinals two strong innings out of the bullpen, sending down all six batters he faced.
Maness recorded five groundouts and one fly out as he retired the Giants in order.
But that was the only highlight for the Redbirds in the final two innings, as they were retired in order through the eighth and ninth innings to drop the first game of the NLCS to the Giants.
No seventh inning magic for Cardinals
The Cardinals tried for some more 7th inning magic by putting two runners on with one out.
Yadier Molina and Jon Jay hit back-to-back singles followed by a dribbler off the bat of Kolten Wong. In a foot race to the bag, Brandon Belt tossed the ball to Madison Bumgarner who body checked Wong, but applied the tag. Mike Matheny asked the umpires to review the play, but the call stood giving the Cards two outs and runners on second and third.
Matheny sent up Tony Cruz as the pinch-hitter, but Cruz struck out and the magic of the seventh inning was lost.
Bullpen gets job done in the 7th
Marco Gonzales went a little more than one inning without giving up a run in relief of Adam Wainwright.
He pitched to one batter in the seventh inning, Joe Panik, but he reached on a single into right field and Mike Matheny went to his bullpen. Carlos Martinez entered the game to face the heart of the Giants order.
Martinez got Buster Posey on a hard line out to Jon Jay, but then gave up a hit to Pablo Sandoval. The Cardinals have yet to retire Sandoval who has reached on a walk, two singles and a double as he's singularly out-hitting the Cards.
However, Martinez couldn't keep the Cardinals out of a trouble as he gave up a two-out walk to Brandon Belt to load the bases. Matheny opted for lefty specialist Randy Choate to face Brandon Crawford and he got Crawford to ground into a fielder's choice to end the inning and strand three runners, giving the Giants 10 stranded runners on the night.
Wainwright exits in the 5th
Adam Wainwright lasted only two-thirds of an inning in the fifth as Mike Matheny lifted his ace in favor of Marco Gonzales.
Wainwright began the fifth with a fly out from Buster Posey, but he allowed a free pass to Pablo Sandoval. Hunter Pence grounded back to Wainwright, but the Cards were unable to turn the double play.
It was the two-out walk to Brandon Belt that ended Wainwright's night. He finished the night with 98 pitches, 56 of them strikes, while giving up three runs on six hits. Gonzales then got Brandon Crawford to groundout to first to end the inning.
Another rough inning for Wainwright
Wainwright began the third inning in trouble again, allowing back-to-back singles to Buster Posey and Sandoval. They were both absolute ropes, and though his pitch count was climbing toward 60, the Cardinal bullpen remained silent.
Hunter Pence pounded a grounder up the middle, but a wild hop skipped off Kolten Wong. Instead of a double play, the Birds only got an out when Peralta corralled it and stepped on second.
Brandon Belt hit a fly ball to center deep enough to score Posey and the Cardinals found themselves in a three-run hole. Crawford grounded to second for the final out of the frame, but not before Wainwright threw his 69th pitch.
An ugly 2nd
As smooth as the first went, the second inning carried Wainwright into rough waters. Pablo Sandoval sent a ball to the wall in right field, and though Randal Grichuk leapt and caught it, his crash into the wall knocked the ball loose. With the Panda on second, Hunter Pence drew a walk to put two on without an out.
Brandon Belt loaded the bases when he flared a ball into left, catching Holliday in-between. The veteran outfielder let the ball drop in front of him, and all three runners had a home.
Wainwright struck out Brandon Crawford and found himself one well-placed grounder away from an escape. Travis Ishikawa wouldn’t let him off the hook, lofting a seeing-eye single down the line in left just out of the reach of a sprinting Matt Carpenter.
It gave the Giants a 1-0 lead and left the bases jammed for Madison Bumgarner. The pitcher lined sharply to short, but the flip from Peralta to Wong was not in time to catch Belt for a double play.
Instead, Gregor Blanco hit next and reached when Matt Carpenter misplayed a grounder, scoring a second run for the Giants.
The inning would mercifully close when Wainwright got a come-backer, but he walked into the dugout having thrown 50 pitches in two innings, surrendering three hits in the second.
The offense would be no help, mustering only a single from Jon Jay before the inning closed.
A smooth 1st
Adam Wainwright appeared to be back to his old self in the first inning, retiring the Giants in order on just 14 pitches.
The Cardinal ace worked in a healthy mix, throwing five curves, four sinkers, two cutters and three fastballs, commanding all of his offerings with ease.
In the bottom of the inning, Matt Carpenter ran up a six pitch at bat ending in a single to start things off. He would end up stranded there, but nearly got to trot home on Matt Holliday’s at bat. The big left fielder put a shot into a first-pitch fastball, but missed a homer by about a foot.
Instead, it was a long out, and the inning would end with a high fly ball from Jhonny Peralta.