Wong homers in 9th, Cards edge Giants to tie NLCS
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Kolten Wong ended Game 2 of the NL Championship Series with a big swing for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, they can only hope the season isn’t over for Yadier Molina.
Wong hit a leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth inning and the resilient Cardinals beat the San Francisco Giants 5-4 Sunday night, tying the best-of-seven series at one game apiece with their latest postseason power show.
The Cardinals came back after losing Molina to a strained oblique muscle in the sixth. The All-Star catcher was getting further tests and manager Mike Matheny said it “didn’t look real good.”
“We’ll wait and see and right now we’ll just go ahead and keep celebrating a very tough, hard-fought win. I am real proud at how these guys kept coming,” Matheny said.
St. Louis didn’t stay down too long, getting a home run each of the final three innings in a back-and-forth game.
The series resumes Tuesday night in San Francisco with John Lackey going for St. Louis and Tim Hudson starting for the Giants.
“It was tough to see our backstop go down like that,” Matt Adams said. “We just kept grinding it the rest of the game.”
Rookie pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras connected in the seventh to tie it, and Adams homered in the eighth for a 4-3 lead. San Francisco tied it in the ninth on a wild pitch by closer Trevor Rosenthal.
St. Louis, last in the NL with 105 home runs during the regular season, has hit 11 homers in six playoff games — seven in the seventh inning or later. Earlier, Matt Carpenter connected for the fourth time this postseason.
“It kind of got overshadowed there at the end, but man that was an exciting game,” Carpenter said. “That was a must-win for us, to do that in that fashion especially after giving up the lead in the ninth.”
After the Giants tied it, Wong lined a pitch from Sergio Romo for his second big home run this postseason. The rookie’s seventh-inning drive was the decisive blow in Game 3 of the NL Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It was a rare postseason failure for the reliable San Francisco bullpen.
“They are the reason we’re in this situation, and you give (the Cardinals) credit,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They threw out some good at-bats and we made a couple of mistakes and they took advantage of them.”
The Giants made it 4-all when pinch-runner Matt Duffy dashed home from second base on a two-out wild pitch in the ninth. San Francisco wound up losing for just the second time in its last 14 postseason games.
“It’s not a tough loss at all. I feel it was a great loss,” said Gregor Blanco, who had a tiebreaking hit in the seventh. “We battled to the last out, so I think it was a great win.”
Seth Maness retired Pablo Sandoval on a comebacker with the bases loaded to end the top of the ninth, and got the win.
Maness came on after Rosenthal couldn’t hold a one-run lead. Rosenthal’s pitch bounced off the glove off backup catcher Tony Cruz and Duffy, running on a full count, never broke stride and slid home with the tying run.
Adams, whose three-run shot off Clayton Kershaw put St. Louis in front for good in its clinching playoff win over Dodgers, homered off Hunter Strickland.
Blanco’s fourth postseason hit in 31 at-bats put the Giants up 3-2 in the seventh, but Taveras re-tied it in the bottom half with a homer off Jean Machi just inside the right-field foul pole.
Carpenter hit a solo shot off Jake Peavy in the third. Randal Grichuk singled with the bases loaded in the fourth to make it 2-0.
Peavy was taken out for a pinch hitter in the fifth and the Giants scored a run off Lance Lynn, then Hunter Pence’s single tied it in the sixth.
Giants: Hudson pitched well vs. Washington in Game 2 of the Division Series, allowing a run in 7 1-3 innings.
Cardinals: Lackey has a win in each of his last three postseason series and is the active leader with 111 postseason innings.
THE HIT MAN
Molina became St. Louis’ career leader in postseason hits with 89, moving past Albert Pujols on a single in the second.
Jim Edmonds, the star center fielder on three Cardinals World Series teams, threw out the first pitch.