When the San Francisco Giants needed ace Matt Cain most, he stepped up.
So did the rest of the team.
The Giants came back from a 3-1 series deficit to shock the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 of the NLCS, 9-0, on Monday night.
Cain shut the Cardinals down in 5.2 innings, striking out four in the process, as the Giants rolled to their second World Series appearance in the last three years.
Matt Cain is trying to be 2nd pitcher w/ 2 winner-take-all wins in same postseason. Chris Carpenter did it for Cardinals last season.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 23, 2012
Angel Pagan led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, eventually scoring on Pablo Sandoval's infield dribbler to right-hander Kyle Lohse.
Cain singled home Gregor Blanco in the second to become the third Giants pitcher in as many games to drive home a run. SFGStats tweeted:
Marks 1st time in Major League Postseson history a club has had a starting pitcher drive in a run in 3-straight games. #SFGiants— #SFGStats (@SFG_Stats) October 23, 2012
Not only that, each run proved to be big for the Giants in each game, as Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News noted:
Zito bunt made it 3-0 in Game 5, Vogelsong grounder made it 2-0 in Game 6 and Cain single makes it 2-0 in Game 7. Those are HUGE.— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) October 23, 2012
San Francisco really opened things up in the third inning, scoring five runs in a devastating frame for the Cardinals.
Hunter Pence had a two-run double in the inning (while catcher Buster Posey scored on center fielder Jon Jay's fielding error) and both Pagan and shortstop Brandon Crawford had RBI off of ground balls.
There was a bit of controversy in the game when Cain beaned Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday in the top of the sixth inning, as Holliday slid hard into Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro in Game 2.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports tweeted:
Matt Cain waited until the Giants were up 7-0 and running away with the pennant to hit Matt Holliday. That was bush.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 23, 2012
St. Louis threatened in the eighth, but failed to score a run as relievers Santiago Casilla and Javier Lopez ultimately got the job done for San Francisco. And first baseman Brandon Belt launched a homer to right field in the bottom of the eighth inning to pile on.
Lohse ended up allowing five runs in two innings (failing to get an out in the third), while reliever Joe Kelly gave up two runs in 0.2 innings.
FYI: Scutaro caught Holliday's pop-up for the final out of the game.
San Francisco will host the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 of the 2012 World Series on Wednesday at AT&T Park.