SAN FRANCISCO — Ryan Vogelsong and the Giants saved their season once more, pushing the Cardinals to a winner-take-all Game 7 tonight in the NL Championship Series.
Turns out the defending-champion Cardinals aren't the only team that's tough to put away in October.
Vogelsong struck out a career-best nine in another postseason gem, and San Francisco held off elimination for a second straight game by beating St. Louis 6-1 Sunday night.
"We know what's at stake, and to get to this point we're excited," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "We go out there and play like there's no tomorrow."
Marco Scutaro delivered a two-run double and Buster Posey drove in his first run of the series with a groundout in the first inning as the Giants struck early to support Vogelsong.
San Francisco's Matt Cain and St. Louis' Kyle Lohse are set to pitch tonight in a rematch of Game 3, won by the Cardinals. Rain is forecast during the day.
"This place is going to be loud, I can tell you that," Vogelsong said.
In five games with their season on the line, the Giants have won five times. Now, it comes down to one game for the past two World Series champions to get back, with Detroit waiting.
Pitching to chants of "Vogey! Vogey!" from the sellout crowd of 43,070 at AT&T Park, the right-hander didn't allow a hit until Daniel Descalso's broken-bat single to center with two outs in the fifth. Vogelsong struck out the side in the first and had already fanned five through two innings.
The Cardinals managed their only run on Allen Craig's two-out single in the sixth. St. Louis had gone 15 innings without scoring after left-hander Barry Zito won 5-0 Friday.
"I just tried to do really the same thing he did, come out and set the tone early for us," Vogelsong said.
Vogelsong had his second stellar seven-inning outing against the Cardinals in a week. He lowered his postseason ERA — all this year — to 1.42.
"I just believe that it's my time," he said.
After taking a 3-1 lead back home at Busch Stadium, Mike Matheny's Cardinals will have to find some offense in a hurry if they want to get back to the World Series.
They've faced close calls all year. They won the NL's second wild card on the second-to-last day of the regular season, then won at Atlanta to reach the NL Division Series. They rallied from a 6-0 deficit with a four-run ninth to stun the Nationals 9-7 in Game 5 of the NLDS.
The Giants got to St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter again. The Cardinals' all-time postseason leader with 10 victories looked out of synch for the second straight start, and he left with a nearly identical line as in his 7-1 Game 2 loss here last Monday.
Carpenter was done in by one big inning this time, too. Vogelsong reached on shortstop Pete Kozma's error in the second, scoring Brandon Belt after he led off with a triple. Scutaro came up two batters later and doubled home two more runs.
"The bottom line is," Carpenter said, "I'm not giving my team a chance to win."
National League Championship Series
Cardinals 3, Giants 3
Game 1: Cardinals 6, Giants 4
Game 2: Giants 7, Cardinals 1
Game 3: Cardinals 3, Giants 1
Game 4: Cardinals 8, Giants 3
Game 5: Giants 5, Cardinals 0
Sunday: Giants 6, Cardinals 1
Tonight: at San Francisco, 8:07
TV: All games Ch. 13
Tigers vs. TBD
Wednesday: at NL, TBD
Thursday: at NL, TBD
Saturday: at Detroit, TBD
Oct. 28: at Detroit, TBD
Oct. 29: at Detroit, TBD*
Oct. 31: at NL, TBD*
Nov. 1: at NL, TBD*
TV: All games Ch. 13
* If necessary