SAN FRANCISCO — This time, Carlos Beltran, David Freese and the Cardinals were the ones taking a six-run lead. And they held on to theirs, barely.
Beltran and Freese hit two-run homers, and St. Louis beat the Giants 6-4 on Sunday night in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.
The defending World Series champions took an early 6-0 cushion that was just enough. Two nights earlier, they came back from a 6-0 deficit, using a four-run rally in the ninth inning at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of their NL Division Series.
"The way we play the game, we have been in this type of situation before in the regular season," Beltran said. "These guys have this mentality of not panicking."
The St. Louis bullpen delivered with 51/3 scoreless innings after starter Lance Lynn was chased. Edward Mujica, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out the side in order in the seventh for the win. Jason Motte finished for his second save of the postseason.
The Giants dropped to 0-3 at home in these playoffs, outscored 20-6 at AT&T Park.
Beltran's fourth-inning drive into the seats in left-center chased San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner, who has been a far cry from the impressive pitcher he was during the 2010 World Series run. He lost Game 2 of the division series to the Reds exactly a week earlier and has an 11.25 ERA in his two postseason starts this year.