ST. LOUIS, Missouri - San Francisco pitcher Barry Zito led the Giants to a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals to keep their race for a World Series berth alive.
It was the fourth time this post-season the Giants have fended off elimination. They narrowed the gap on the reigning World Series champions to 3-2 in the best-of-seven National League Championship series.
The Cardinals need just one win to return to baseball's championship showcase, which starts next Wednesday. The winner of this series will take on the American League champions Detroit Tigers.
The Giants and Cardinals will meet again on Sunday in San Francisco, when the Cardinals will give the ball to ace hurler Chris Carpenter and Ryan Vogelsong will start for the Giants.
"That was the goal coming in," said shortstop Brandon Crawford, who had a two-run single. "We wanted to get this series home and play another day together."
Zito made it happen as he scattered six hits and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings.
He also contributed on offense pushing in a run with a bunt single that capped a four-run fourth inning.
"It's just something that I've worked on," Zito said.
Pablo Sandoval went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and scored twice to help the Giants, who had fought back from a 2-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati in the best-of-five division series.
"We do have confidence from what we accomplished in Cincinnati," said Hunter Pence, whose soft ground ball aided the Giants' fourth-inning outburst. "That definitely gives you hope, which is a very powerful thing."
After Marco Scutaro and Sandoval singled in the fourth, Pence hit his grounder toward the mound. Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn fielded it but fired the ball off of second base and into center field, allowing Scutaro to score.
Pence said Giants first-base coach Roberto Kelly told him "That's the break we need".
Crawford stretched the margin with a crisp ground ball up the middle with the bases loaded that scored two runs.
Sandoval homered off reliever Mitchell Boggs in the eighth.
Cardinals starter Lynn meanwhile failed to make it out of the fourth inning for a second straight start in this series.
An 18-game winner in the regular season, Lynn gave up four runs on four hits.
Yadier Molina accounted for two of the Cardinals' seven hits.
"Obviously, we would have liked to finish it here, but I wouldn't call it disappointing," said the Cardinals' Daniel Descalso. "We're still in the driver's seat. We've got two games to win one."
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