Cardinals 6, Giants 3

Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Carlos Beltran extracted a bit of revenge against his former part-time employer Saturday, driving in three runs, two on a tie-breaking, two-out single in three-run fifth inning, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
Beltran's productive afternoon came on a day the Giants set aside to honor their catcher, Buster Posey, presenting him his 2012 National League Most Valuable Player plaque in an on-field ceremony immediate preceding the game's first pitch.
Beltran, who played 44 games for the Giants as a rental player in the stretch run of the 2011 season in the club's unsuccessful bid to catch the Arizona Diamondbacks for the National League West title, was booed every time he came to bat Saturday as the San Francisco fans vented their frustration over his inability to be a difference-maker two years ago.
The switch-hitter certainly was a difference-maker Saturday, first snapping the Giants starting pitchers' season-opening streak of innings without allowing an earned run at 26 2/3 with a two-out RBI single in the first inning that plated Matt Carpenter.
But it was the fifth-inning shot into right field that brought home Carpenter and Matt Holliday and broke a 2-2 tie that Giants fans had envisioned when he was acquired on July 28, 2011.
Beltran, who left the club as a free agent that off-season, signing with the Cardinals, began the day hitting .100 and without an RBI as St. Louis had lost three of its first four.
Shelby Miller (1-0), who moved into the starting rotation this season with Chris Carpenter out with shoulder issues, survived an early Hunter Pence homer to record a win in his just second career start. He got a lot of help not only from Beltran but also four relievers, with Mitchell Boggs notching his first save of the season in a four-batter ninth inning.
Pablo Sandoval's second home run of the young season off the Cardinals' fourth pitcher, Edward Mujica, got the Giants within 5-3 in the eighth and kept San Francisco's hopes alive for a fourth consecutive win.
When Posey smacked the next pitch off the right field wall for a double, the Giants were able to bring the potential tying run to the plate three times in the inning, but Mujica was able to escape further damage.
Carpenter's ninth-inning single off the Giants' fourth pitcher, Javier Lopez, brought home Shane Robinson with a Cardinals insurance run.
Ryan Vogelsong (0-1) gave up both of Beltran's run-producing hits and took the loss, lasting just 5 1/3 innings.
Two infield hits set the stage for Beltran in the Cardinals' fifth.
With St. Louis down 2-1, No. 8 hitter Pete Kozma reached base to lead off the uprising when shortstop Brandon Crawford's long throw from the hole skidded on the wet grass and handcuffed Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. Kozma was credited with a hit.
After a two-out walk to Carpenter, Holliday got St. Louis even with a grounder into left field, scoring Kozma.
Vogelsong appeared to get out of the inning when he got Allen Craig to ground meekly to the left side of the infield, but Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had the ball deflect off his glove as he dove in front of Crawford.
All runners were safe, loading the bases for Beltran, who didn't need any of the Giants' help on his hit, lining a shot into right field to score Carpenter and Holliday, producing a 4-2 Cardinals lead.
Early on, it took an odd combination of two shattered bats, a passed ball and a wild pitch to end the Giants' streak of innings without allowing an earned run.
After retiring Jon Jay to open the game, Vogelsong twice splintered Carpenter's bat, the second time producing a 60-foot squibber down the third-base line that resulted in a single.
Carpenter took second when Posey couldn't handle a third strike on Holliday, and reached third on a ball in the dirt that eluded the reigning MVP as Craig was being walked.
The Giants' streak ended when Beltran dumped a two-out single into short right field.
NOTES: With their first four starting pitchers having surrendered no earned runs through 26 innings, the Giants were attempting to better the Milwaukee Brewers' stretch of 31 2/3 such innings to start the 1976 season. ... The Giants began the 2010 season without allowing an earned run for 19 innings, which had equaled the franchise's all-time record before this year's group shattered the mark. ... Four former National League MVP's -- Jeff Kent (2000), Kevin Mitchell (1989), Willie McCovey (1969) and Willie Mays (1954, '65) -- were on hand for the pregame ceremony honoring Posey, the 2012 MVP. ... Carl Hubbell (1933, '36) and Barry Bonds (1993, '01-04) were the other National League MVP's in Giants history. ... Most Cardinals who weren't warming up stood in line on the top step of the first-base dugout and applauded the introduction of Posey and the formal plaque presentation. ... Current Giants who also were members of the team last season will receive their World Series championship rings before Sunday's series finale. Twenty-one of the 25 Giants on this season's Opening Day roster were members of the team last year as well. ... There was no batting practice before Saturday's game after light rain overnight and as the teams arrived at the ballpark had left the field damp.

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