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Giants overcome 3-1 series deficit to win NL pennant

The San Francisco Giants celebrate after the final

The San Francisco Giants celebrate after the final out in Game 7 of baseball's NLCS. (Oct. 22, 2012) Credit: AP

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants, using their usual fine pitching and some very unusual big hitting, completed another improbable playoff comeback Monday night, defeating the Cardinals, 9-0, in Game 7 to win the National League pennant.

After falling behind three games to one in the NLCS, the Giants outscored the Cardinals 20-1 in the final three games behind stellar starting pitching by Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. The Giants, who won the world championship in 2010, will face the American League champion Tigers in the World Series, which begins here Wednesday night.

"The fans have been so good to us, they've been so positive,'' said centerfielder Angel Pagan, who came from the Mets in an offseason deal. "Now we're ready to go to the World Series.''

Marco Scutaro, who hit .500 in the series and was named NLCS Most Valuable Player, produced his sixth multihit game of the series and matched an LCS record with 14 hits. Hideki Matsui (2004 Yankees), Albert Pujols (2004 Cardinals) and Kevin Youkilis (2007 Red Sox) also had 14 hits in an LCS.

The Cardinals were trying to become the first National League team since the 1975-76 Reds to repeat as world champs, and after four games, they appeared to have a good shot. But the Giants won the final three games, just as they won three straight games in Cincinnati after falling behind the Reds two games to none in the best-of-five Division Series. "They played with more heart than any club I've ever managed,'' the Giants' Bruce Bochy said. "These guys were relentless."

The top of the ninth was played in a heavy rain, but the umpires made no effort to halt play and the fans made no effort to leave, watching as their team celebrated in the downpour and fireworks were sent airborne.

The Giants, in their history -- which started in New York early in the 20th century -- had been 0-5 in seventh games, four in the World Series and one in the 1987 NLCS against St. Louis.

Ahead 2-0, the Giants scored five runs in the bottom of the third, which lasted nearly a half-hour. They loaded the bases with nobody out to knock out Kyle Lohse, and reliever Joe Kelly broke Hunter Pence's bat at the label with a 95-mph fastball. The shattered barrel hit the ball two more times, putting an odd spin on the ball that sent it slicing in another direction and into left-center, fooling Cardinals shortstop Pete Kozma.

"The read I got, it was going toward the hole," Kozma said. "I thought he came around it. The ball made like a banana and went up the middle. I just reacted to the ball and had no chance at it."

Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval scored on the double and Buster Posey raced home to make it 5-0 when centerfielder Jon Jay bobbled the ball for an error.

Cain opened the top of the sixth inning by hitting Matt Holliday, who in Game 2 crashed into Scutaro while breaking up a double play. Scutaro suffered a bruised hip but never missed a game.

Scutaro, who was picked up in a late July trade from Colorado, said, "Actually, I got a little fame from being hit from Holliday. It was kind of weird."

Another raucous sellout crowd of 43,056 booed Holliday every time he came to the plate. In a bit of poetic justice, with the rain pouring down, Holliday popped to Scutaro to send the Giants to the World Series.

The Giants trailed the Dodgers for the first three months of the season. The Dodgers still were close in late August when they made a huge trade with Boston, acquiring $260 million worth of players. But San Francisco, which added Scutaro -- nicknamed "Blockbuster" in response to the Dodgers' deal -- and Pence from the Phillies, won the NL West by eight games.

With AP

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