The St. Louis Cardinals got on the board early and never looked back, earning an 8-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 4 of the NLCS.
The reigning champions got a strong performance from ace right-hander Adam Wainwright while blasting Tim Lincecum out of the game in the fifth inning.
It all started with two runs in the bottom of the first inning for the Cardinals, courtesy of a Matt Holliday single and an Allen Craig sacrifice fly.
In fact, Holliday tormented Lincecum throughout his start, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run against the right-hander before finishing 2-for-5. Holliday came into the game hitting .222 these playoffs (8-for-36), but he made his presence known in Game 4.
It was also surprising that Holliday had success against Lincecum, as he had historically struggled against the Giants' (former?) ace.
Tim Trokey of Fox Sports Midwest pointed out an interesting bit of information:
Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval had an opportunity to do some damage against Wainwright in the top of the sixth with men on first and third, down 4-1, but he grounded out.
He hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning, but it was too little, too late at that point.
A lot of Wainwright's success came courtesy of his curveball, which was unbelievable throughout the game. Baseball writer Joe Sheehan tweeted:
Looks like Wainwright left a ticket for his Uncle Charlie tonight.— Joe Sheehan (@joe_sheehan) October 19, 2012
Wainwright pitched seven innings of one-run ball for his first win of the postseason.
Lincecum, who has had a nightmare of a season, only lasted 4.2 innings while giving up four runs on six hits. That included three walks in the game. It certainly wasn't what manager Bruce Bochy wanted to see after Lincecum showed some promise as a reliever throughout the playoffs.
Ray Ratto of CSN Bay Area quipped:
I guess eight and one-third innings of really good and mildly important long relief doesn't go as far as it used to.— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) October 19, 2012
After Lincecum got the hook, the Cardinals got to the Giants bullpen in the sixth inning off Jon Jay's two-run double. Things snowballed at that point.
By the end of it all, it was 8-3 Cardinals.
Things need to get better quickly for the Giants. They are one loss away from getting knocked out of the playoffs. Game 5 is set for Friday, 8 p.m. ET on Fox.