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Cardinals beat Giants 3-1, take 2-1 lead in NL Championship Series

ST. LOUIS — Matt Carpenter always tries to stay ready, keeping an assortment of gloves nearby. That's his job.

The Cardinals' utilityman took on a new role in Game 3 of the NL Championship Series: game-changer.

Carpenter hit a two-run homer after subbing for Carlos Beltran, and St. Louis chased Matt Cain before a 3½-hour rain delay in the seventh inning of a 3-1 victory over the Giants on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.

"It was definitely a surprise," Carpenter said. "I didn't even realize Carlos had hurt himself, there was really no thought process.

"I was in the game before I had time to think about it."

Beltran strained his left knee running out a double-play ball in the first inning, and the Cardinals said he was day to day. Fox Sports and the MLB Network reported that he's likely to play in today's game.

Kyle Lohse worked around a season-worst five walks in 52/3 innings, and Jason Motte earned the first two-inning save of his career to reward what remained of a sellout crowd of 45,850 that stuck around — perhaps a third — for a game that lasted 3 hours, 2 minutes, about a half-hour shorter than the delay.

"They said if we didn't score I was going to go out there. I was in the clubhouse running around, I've never really had to sit around like that," Motte said. "It was probably the most nervous I've ever been."

Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro had two hits and a clean game in the field, two days after Matt Holliday rammed him breaking up a double play. Manager Bruce Bochy had said there would be no retaliation, and Game 3 was collision-free.

"I'm sure he was gutting it out," Bochy said of Scutaro. "He was determined to play and made a pretty good recovery."

Beltran, one of the best playoff performers ever, is batting .400 this postseason with three homers and six RBIs, but Carpenter had big numbers against Cain: He was 4-for-4 for his career against him, four singles.

"Really, there's no explanation," Carpenter said. "He's one of the best in the game, obviously, I think we all know that."

After Jon Jay's two-out single, Cain got ahead of Carpenter 0-and-2, then Carpenter worked it back to 2-and-2 before jumping on a hanging slider.

"I try to grind out those at-bats and fight," Carpenter said. "I was in my two-strike mode and I got the pitch. You don't expect things like that to happen."

The Giants were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Hunter Pence grounded into a double play with runners on first and third in the third and grounded into a force play with a man on to end the fifth.

"I'm the goat," Pence said. "I just didn't get the job done."

Cardinals beat Giants 3-1, take 2-1 lead in NL Championship Series 10/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:20am]

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