- Associated Press - Sunday, October 12, 2014

ST. LOUIS — Madison Bumgarner once again put the San Francisco Giants well on the road to a playoff victory.

Bumgarner pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning and the Giants combined just enough hitting with a couple of defensive flubs by St. Louis to beat the Cardinals 3-0 Saturday night in the NL Championship Series opener.

Bumgarner set a major league postseason record with 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings on the road.

“That’s pretty cool,” he said. “There’s stats for everything nowadays. I’ve happened to have a little extra good luck on the road.”

Maybe, although his numbers show that perhaps it’s more than luck. In four postseason road starts, he’s 4-0 with an 0.59 ERA.

The left-hander, already a key part of two World Series championship teams in San Francisco, was in complete command.

But 20-game winner Adam Wainwright made another early exit for the Cardinals. In his two playoff outings this month, he’s failed to last even five innings.

“I think there’s a scenario out there where I give up one run,” Wainwright said. “As ugly as it was, I would say my arm felt better than last time.”

Pablo Sandoval got three hits as San Francisco won for the 12th time in its last 13 postseason games, including three straight victories to erase a 3-1 deficit in the 2012 NLCS against St. Louis.

“Man, exciting to be in October, you know,” Sandoval said. “Last year I was home watching the game on TV.”

Jake Peavy gets the Game 2 start for the Giants on Sunday night against Lance Lynn.

Bumgarner, who began the playoffs by throwing a shutout at Pittsburgh in the wild-card game, gave up four hits in 7 2-3 innings.

Bumgarner bested the mark of 23 straight postseason scoreless innings on the road set by Art Nehf of the New York Giants from 1921-24.

The Cardinals’ threatened against him only in the seventh on consecutive one-out singles by Yadier Molina and Jon Jay, but Kolten Wong tapped out and pinch-hitter Tony Cruz fanned.

The Giants’ bullpen finished with hitless relief as Sergio Romo got the last out in the eighth and Santiago Casilla closed for a save.

Wainwright was 20-9 during the regular season, including 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in September with two complete games and a shutout. He’s piled up a major league-high 512 2-3 innings the last two years.

The right-hander admitted before this series that his pitching elbow had bothered him during a start in the division series at Dodger Stadium.

“It’s not 100 percent,” Wainwright said. “I think it was 100 percent better than it was the last time I pitched, I’ll say that.”

In two October starts this year, Wainwright has permitted eight earned runs in nine innings. He’s 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last five postseason appearances — he lasted 4 2-3 innings against the Giants after going just 4 1-3 innings in the NLDS opener vs. Los Angeles.

The Cardinals twice failed to seal the deal defensively in the Giants’ two-run second.

Third baseman Matt Carpenter’s fielding error with the bases loaded on Gregor Blanco’s soft one-hop liner at his feet was their first error of the postseason.

Sandoval doubled to start the inning when rookie right fielder Randal Grichuk gloved the ball but couldn’t hang on as he ran into the wall. Travis Ishikawa, 0 for 5 with five strikeouts and a walk against Wainwright, had an RBI single on a jam-shot bloop just over Carpenter’s head in shallow left.

Wong misplayed a double-play ball at second base in the third, and Brandon Belt’s sacrifice fly made it 3-0.

“We make a few plays and we can still be out there playing right now,” manager Mike Matheny said.

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