ST. LOUIS — Jason Motte had a lot more time than usual to get ready, learning the plan before the grounds crew took the tarp off the field. It was nice to get some advance notice before going for the first two-inning save of his career under October pressure.
The San Francisco Giants went six up and six down against the St. Louis Cardinals‘ hard-throwing closer, thrust into an extended appearance by a rain delay that lasted longer than Game 3 of the NLCS. Motte needed just 19 pitches to complete a 3-1 victory that was worth the wait Wednesday night, putting the defending World Series champions up 2-1 in the series against the 2010 World Series titlists.
“I’ve never had a situation where I’ve known that far ahead of time,” said Motte, who has saved both of St. Louis’ victories in the NLCS and has three saves in the postseason. “You know, you’re usually watching the game and you prepare yourself that way.
“I went to the bullpen a little early and got my arm loose and I was able to get the job done.”
Rookie Matt Carpenter hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat of the NLCS after subbing for the injured Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals chased Matt Cain just before a 3½-hour rain delay in the seventh inning.
Beltran strained his left knee running out a double-play ball in the first inning and manager Mike Matheny said he was day to day. He’s had issues with the knee throughout the season, but played in 151 games and had 619 at-bats, his most since 2008.
Cardinals pitchers made the lead stand up, beginning with Kyle Lohse, who worked around a season-worst five walks in 5 2-3 innings. The 16-game winner is 2-1 with a 1.96 ERA this postseason after escaping several jams, and has allowed two or fewer runs in all three of his starts.
“I made up a word. Grindy, very grindy,” Lohse said. “Just one of those days where I knew warming up it was not quite coming out the way I wanted it to.”
Setup man Mitchell Boggs pitched earlier than usual, too, bailing out Edward Mujica. Boggs struck out Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt with two on to end the seventh as the storm approached.
Motte made it a rewarding finish for what remained of a sellout crowd of 45,850 — perhaps a third — in a game that lasted 3 hours, 2 minutes. He was ready to go for Game 4, too.
“I feel great,” Motte said. “This time of the year, you’re ready to go every single day.”
Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro had two hits and a clean game in the field, two days after Matt Holliday rammed into him breaking up a double play. Manager Bruce Bochy had said there would be no retaliation, and Game 3 was collision and controversy free.
“He was determined to play and made a pretty good recovery,” Bochy said of Scutaro. “He played well, got some big hits. It says a lot about his makeup, and how tough he is.”
Cain lost for the second time this postseason, giving up three runs on five hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Giants, who entered the game batting just .217 in the postseason, were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.
Pence, the Giants‘ fifth-place hitter, also grounded into a double play with runners on first and third in the third and grounded into a force play with a man on to end the fifth.