Zito’s strong outing carries Giants past Cardinals, forces Game 6
St. Louis, MO, United States (4E Sports) – Barry Zito pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings and contributed a run-scoring bunt in San Francisco’s fourth-inning breakaway as the Giants remained alive in the National League Championship Series with a 5-0 blanking of the St. Louis Cardinals in Friday’s Game 5 at Busch Stadium.
“I had all my pitches working tonight, five pitches,” said Zito, who allowed six hits with one walk and six strikeouts. “Just different locations, changing speeds.”
The victory has trimmed the Cardinals’ lead to 3-2 and most importantly, brought the series back to San Francisco for a crucial Game 6.
After Saturday’s off-day, the teams will meet Sunday at AT&T Park Sunday with NLCS Game 2 winner Ryan Vogelsong on the mound for the Giants against Chris Carpenter.
“The most important thing was getting the series back home so our fans can be a factor in the game. That’s a huge thing,” added Zito, who held the Cardinals hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“I’ve only been here a few years, but I see how hard he works no matter what,” catcher Buster Posey said of Zito. “No matter if he’s struggling or doing well, he puts in the time off the field. His preparation is second to none.”
Like what he did in Game 1, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn dominated the Giants in the first three innings, striking five of the first eight batters he faced, before crumbling in the fourth inning.
Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval singled to open the rally before Pence hit a comebacker to Lynn, who flung a throw to second base that caromed off the bag and flew into center field.
Scutaro took advantage of the situation, scampering home for the Giants first run while Sandoval went to third base.
One out later, Lynn (0-1) walked Gregor Blanco to load the bases before Brandon Crawford hit a two-run single. Zito (1-0) then hit a perfect bunt and beat David Freese’s throw to first as Blanco charged home.
Sandoval added an eighth-inning leadoff homer off Mitchell Boggs for his second long ball in two nights and his third of the postseason.
“We never thought for a second that these guys were going to go away,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “They’re a good team and they’re going to keep fighting — we know that. It just comes down to execution. They executed today better than we did.”
Lynn lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
“I thought he was as good as we’ve seen him all season those first three innings,” Matheny said of Lynn. “He looked like he was untouchable. He was mixing his offspeed pitches very well and executing his fastball instead of just trying to throw past people. He was pitching.”