Ryan Vogelsong, Giants beat Cardinals 6-1 to force NLCS Game 7

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The Cardinals managed their only run on Craig’s two-out single in the sixth. St. Louis had gone 15 innings without scoring after left-hander Barry Zito won 5-0 on Friday in Game 5.

“I just tried to do really the same thing he did, come out and set the tone early for us,” Vogelsong said.

Vogelsong had his second stellar seven-inning outing against the Cardinals in a week, allowing four hits and one run. He walked one in a 102-pitch performance and lowered his postseason ERA — all this year — to 1.42.

The 35-year-old Vogelsong toiled through the minors, Japan and even winter ball to finally pitch under the October spotlight for a chance at the World Series. His latest impressive outing put the Giants one win away.

“I just believe that it’s my time,” Vogelsong said.

After taking a 3-1 lead back home at Busch Stadium, Mike Matheny’s Cardinals will have to find some offense in a hurry if they want to get back to the World Series.

“We’ve got to make some adjustments but our team’s done that all season,” Matheny said. “One thing I know is these guys take these to heart.”

These Cards might just prefer close calls. Just like last year.

They won the NL’s second wild card on the second-to-last day of the regular season, then won at Atlanta to reach the division series. The Cardinals rallied from a 6-0 deficit with a four-run ninth inning to stun the Washington Nationals 9-7 in Game 5 of the division series.

The Giants got to St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter again. The Cardinals winningest postseason pitcher with 10 victories looked out of sync for the second straight start — and he left with a nearly identical line as in his 7-1 Game 2 loss here last Monday, down to the hits, earned runs, unearned runs and innings.

Carpenter was done in by one big inning this time, too. He allowed six hits and five runs, two earned, in four innings.

“The bottom line is I’m not giving my team a chance to win,” Carpenter said. “You go out with a 5-0 lead after two innings, it’s not giving your team a chance.”

Vogelsong reached on shortstop Pete Kozma’s fielding error in the second, scoring Brandon Belt after he led off the inning with a triple. Scutaro came up two batters later and doubled home two more runs.

The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals are the most in an NLCS, according to STATS LLC — topping the nine given up by the Braves in 2001 and Dodgers in 1985.

San Francisco never faced an elimination game in 2010 on the way to winning the World Series, but has had to go the distance in each of its first two postseason series this year. They became the first team in major league history to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five series by winning three straight on the road as they did at Cincinnati.

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