SAN FRANCISCO -- Something has to give Monday.
That's when Game 7 will decide the National League Championship Series between two teams that thrive in elimination games.
It was the Giants' turn Sunday in Game 6, as San Francisco's 6-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals forced the decider.
St. Louis' Kyle Lohse will pitch Monday against San Francisco's Matt Cain in a rematch of Game 3, which the Cardinals won 3-1.
"To get to this point, we're excited (after) being down 3-1," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "You go out there and play like there is no tomorrow. ... You're seeing a great series here."
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.
"He was on top of his game again," Bochy said. "He's got great stuff. He's probably been as consistent as any starter we've had this year."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Vogelsong, "He did everything he wanted to do to us. We've had trouble with him, and he's made great pitches against us, and we've made very little adjustments."
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter was ineffective for the second time in the series, taking the loss after allowing five runs (two earned) in four innings.
On Monday, St. Louis will put its 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.
"We've had a number of losses this year that feel like we've been kicked in the gut as we're walking off of the field," Matheny said. "They're not going to dwell on this too long, but they're going to have to learn the lessons on the things they need to make the adjustments on."
St. Louis hopes to have starting left fielder Matt Holiday, its No. 3 hitter, back for Game 7. He was a late lineup scratch Sunday due to lower back tightness. He took batting practice but clearly wasn't himself.
"Wait and see," Matheny said of the star's status. "Right now his back tightened up even a little bit more as we went through the game. We'll see when we get here (Monday)."
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.
However, San Francisco relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo threw shutout ball over the final two innings to the delight of 43,070.
Vogelsong didn't allow a hit through 4 2/3 innings, at which point he already had eight strikeouts.
The 35-year-old right-hander 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 in the fifth. Pinch hitter Skip Schumaker bounced out to end the threat.
"To be honest, I thought I had better stuff in Game 2, but they had a few swing-throughs on my mistakes tonight," Vogelsong said. "I was more nervous during the day off. I didn't want to let down my teammates or let down this city."
After scoring one run 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 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, which included fouling off four straight 3-2 offerings, by hitting an RBI single under the glove of diving second baseman Descalso.
Scutaro continued his strong offensive production, collecting three more hits in Game 6. Previously he had two hits in each but Game 5, when he mustered only one hit. He is batting .458 in the series.
"I can't say enough about what he's done for us since we got him," Bochy said.
National League MVP candidate Buster Posey collected his first RBI of the series in the first inning with a one-out grounder 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.
Ryan Theriot gave the hosts an insurance run with a pinch single with two outs in the eighth.
The attention now turns to Game 7, and Lohse hopes to pick up his teammates.
"I know what I've got to do to be successful," Lohse said. "I know last time I didn't have my best stuff and I was able to stay away from the big inning. I know what I need to do. It's a matter of going out and doing it."
NOTES: 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 to adjust for Holliday's late scratch. ... The Cardinals are trying to become the first repeat NL champs since the Philadelphia Phillies (2008-09). The Cincinnati Reds were the last NL team to repeat as World Series champions (1975-76). ... According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Giants' five straight wins in elimination games are one shy of the single-postseason record of six established by the 1985 Kansas City Royals.