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“Right now, I’m obviously upset at myself,” Lincecum said. “I don’t want to go out there and put my bullpen in a situation where we have to use them the way we’ve been using them.”

The two-time Cy Young Award winner with the quirky delivery earned a shot based on nearly spotless relief work earlier in the postseason, but reverted to regular-season form, when he was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA, worst among qualifying starters in the National League.

Wainwright was rehabbing from reconstructive elbow surgery during the Cardinals’ improbable title drive last fall. They earned the wild card on the final day of the season and then upset the favored Phillies, Brewers and Rangers to give manager Tony La Russa a chance to retire on top.

Under rookie manager Mike Matheny, the 88-win Cardinals were the final team to qualify this year, too. Once again, they’ve stepped up their game.

Wainwright bounced back from a poor outing in Game 5 of the NL division series against Washington, striking out five and walking none for his first postseason victory as a starter.

“This season has gone so fast to me, I just can’t believe where we are right now,” Wainwright said. “When I missed last year, in the offseason I was just like ‘Can we please do that again next year?’

“As painful as it was not to be able to help last year, I feel like I’m a major contributor this year, and I’m having a lot of fun.”

The lone damage against Wainwright came on Pence’s 451-foot homer in the second that cut the Cardinals’ lead to 2-1.

Just 12 pitches in, the Cardinals had two hits, a walk and the lead, and Lincecum got a visit from pitching coach Dave Righetti. Jay opened the first with a single, Matt Carpenter walked on four pitches and Holliday singled up the middle for the lead. Allen Craig tacked on a sacrifice fly.

Lincecum had retired eight in a row before getting knocked out in the fifth on a rally that started with Carpenter’s double off the top of the wall in right-center with one out. The Giants had a good chance of throwing out Carpenter at the plate on Holliday’s single, but shortstop Brandon Crawford’s relay short-hopped catcher Hector Sanchez and Carpenter scored on a headfirst slide to make it 3-1.

Molina’s RBI single with two outs chased Lincecum.

Pablo Sandoval hit a two-run homer in the ninth, but the NL West champs are on the brink of elimination.

“We have all the confidence in Barry,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We do need to get the bats going. They’ve been shutting us down.”

NOTES: Cardinals Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Ozzie Smith made pregame appearances. The 91-year-old Musial toured the warning track in a golf cart while waving to fans and Smith threw out the first pitch. Smith’s son, Nikko, a former American Idol finalist, sang the national anthem. … With Beltran out, Matheny changed the lineup for the first time in the postseason. … According to STATS LLC, the Giants have faced a 2-1 series deficit eight times in franchise history. They have lost Game 4 each time. … Wainwright has a 2.48 ERA in 13 postseason appearances, four of them starts.