SAN FRANCISCO -- Something has to give on Monday.
That's when Game 7 will decide the best-of-seven National League Championship Series between two teams that thrive in elimination games. It was the Giants' turn on Sunday in Game 6 as their 6-1 victory over the Cardinals forced the decider that will match St. Louis' Kyle Lohse against San Francisco's Matt Cain in a rematch of Game 3.
Ryan Vogelsong won his second game of the NLCS, throwing seven sterling innings after being staked to a 5-0 lead through two innings. Vogelsong allowed one run on four hits and struck out a career-high nine as San Francisco improved to 6-0 this postseason when faced with the prospect of a loss ending it season.
Chris Carpenter was ineffective for the second time in the series.
St. Louis puts its perfect 8-0 record in elimination games during 2011 and 2012 on the line. The Cardinals are 2-0 when faced with must-win games this playoff season after winning all six en route to their World Series title a year ago.
The defending champs finally broke through against Vogelsong with two outs in the sixth inning when Carlos Beltran doubled to left and scored on Allen Craig's single through the hole at short.
San Francisco's Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo combined their relief efforts over the final two innings to the delight of 43,070 after Ryan Theriot gave the hosts an insurance run with a pinch-single with two outs in the eighth.
Vogelsong was dominating through five innings, striking out eight by the first out of the fifth and not allowing a hit until two were out in the same frame.
Vogelsong struck out the side in the first and permitted only one baserunner - a one-out walk in the first -- until Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma reached on back-to-back singles. Pinch-hitter Skip Schumaker bounced out to end the fifth-inning threat.
After scoring one in their first at-bat, the Giants hung a four-spot on the Cardinals for the fourth time in this series to take a 5-0 lead after two innings.
Brandon Belt tripled off of St. Louis starter Carpenter to start the second-inning rally, Following an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford, Belt scored when Vogelsong faked a bunt and hit a slow roller to short that Kozma booted.
Following the second out, Marco Scutaro came through again with a double into the left-field corner to plate both Crawford and Vogelsong. Pablo Sandoval capped a 10-pitch battle that included fouling off four straight 3-2 offerings by hitting an RBI single under the glove of diving second baseman Descalso.
National League MVP candidate Buster Posey collected his first RBI of the series in the first inning with a one-out ground ball to third as Scutaro broke on contact. Scutaro had walked and gone to third on Sandoval's double over the head of center fielder Jon Jay.
NOTES: Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday was a late lineup scratch. He was removed following his turn in batting practice because of back stiffness. Craig moved from first base to Holliday's spot in left field, and Matt Carpenter was inserted into the No. 2 hole at first base. ... The Cardinals are trying to become the first repeat NL champs since Philadelphia (2008-09). Cincinnati is the NL team to repeat at World Series champions (1975-76). ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants' four straight wins in elimination games are two shy of the single-postseason record of six established by the 1985 Kansas City Royals.