SAN FRANCISCO - In the Giants clubhouse, on the door that leads toward the playing field, a taped-on sheet of paper greets all visitors. On it is scrawled the saying Nonquam Non Paratus.
Below it is the translation: Never unprepared.
No team has better embodied this motto than the Giants, 6-4 winners Wednesday night over the Cardinals.
Game 4 of the National League Championship Series was decided in the sixth inning, when Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams suffered a bout of brain freeze, and the Giants proved ready to pounce.
They fell behind 4-1 but entered the sixth trailing by one. They ended it ahead by two.
"That's what good teams do," Adams said. "They capitalize on mistakes."
The Cardinals must win Game 5 tonight with Adam Wainwright and his achy elbow against brilliant lefthander Madison Bumgarner.
It didn't have to be this way for the Cardinals, who chased starter Ryan Vogelsong after just three innings.
Kolten Wong administered much of the punishment. In the second, he scored after reaching on a double, when his drive banged off the glove of centerfielder Gregor Blanco.
In the third, Wong pushed the Cardinals' lead to 4-1 on a solo homer. But the Giants bullpen held the line.
Yusmeiro Petit led the charge. The first of six relievers used by manager Bruce Bochy, Petit tossed three shutout innings.
"Most of the time, that's not going to work," Wong said. "Especially with a team like this, when they constantly push and push and push and fight until the end of the game."
The Giants have thrived in this postseason by taking a page from their co-inhabitants at AT&T Park, scavenging for runs in the same way that the sea gulls here swoop in for crumbs.
So in the sixth inning, when Adams offered up scraps, the Giants turned them into a feast.
The swarm began innocently enough. Pinch hitter Juan Perez walked. Brandon Crawford slapped a single. Matt Duffy came off the bench to lay down a sacrifice bunt. The table was set.
Blanco started it with a slow roller to first. Adams charged it, fielded it, then fired it to the plate. The ball hit the dirt and the Giants had tied the score.
"You try to put pressure on the other club," said Bochy, who had Perez going on contact.
The stadium was still shaking when the ball found Adams again. After gloving Joe Panik's roller to first, Adams should have tagged first base before looking Crawford back to third. But when Adams tagged the bag, he fired to second base without checking on Crawford, who pushed the Giants ahead.
"They took off once he released the ball to second base," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "That's not really the play we want."
Posey followed by singling in another run, and soon the Giants found themselves just one victory from the National League pennant.
The Cardinals spent the season scrapping for runs. But they have been outclassed at their own game by the Giants, who have scored 12 of their last 22 runs without needing a hit.
"That's the beast of the game," Wong said. "There's a beauty to the game and there's a beast, and that's what we're facing right now."