SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — David Freese hit a two-run homer and Lance Lynn threw three hitless innings as the St. Louis Cardinals took a 2-0 lead over the San Francisco Giants after three innings of the NL championship series opener on Sunday night.
Madison Bumgarner gave up the longball to Freese in the second inning as the Giants' struggles at home continued this postseason. San Francisco has been outscored 16-2 in 21 innings at AT&T Park, losing twice last round to Cincinnati.
This marked the first time since 1958 that the two most recent World Series champions met in the postseason. That year, the New York Yankees avenged a loss in 1957 to beat the Milwaukee Braves for the title. The Cardinals were involved the only other two times that happened, losing to the Yankees in the 1943 and '28 World Series.
Bumgarner breezed through a perfect first inning but ran into trouble in the second when Yadier Molina singled on an 0-2 pitch with one out. Freese then drove a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left-center to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.
That gave Freese 25 career RBIs in the postseason — tied with Molina for third most ever for the Cardinals. Only Albert Pujols (52) and Jim Edmonds (41) have more.
Bumgarner allowed two more runners in the 30-pitch second and walked Lynn before retiring Jon Jay on a groundout to end it. He pitched around a one-out single by Matt Holliday in the third.
Lynn, an 18-game winner in the regular season, looked comfortable in his first career postseason start. He allowed only one baserunner in the first three innings, a two-out walk to Pablo Sandoval in the first.
Lynn has 10 career relief appearances in the postseason, including four this year. He got the win in Game 2 last round against Washington and allowed Jayson Werth's game-ending homer in Game 4 to take the loss. But he moved into the rotation to take the place of Jaime Garcia, who was taken off division series roster with an injured left shoulder.
Giants fans didn't know if they would be back at the ballpark this year after watching their team fall behind 2-0 in their first-round series to Cincinnati when Bumgarner lost to the Reds exactly a week ago. But San Francisco made it to the NLCS by becoming the first team ever to win three straight road games after falling behind 2-0 in a best-of-five series.
The Cardinals may have had an even more improbably comeback to get back to the NLCS. St. Louis overcame a 6-0 deficit in Game 5 of the division series to Washington — the largest ever in a winner-take-all postseason game, according to STATS LLC. The Cardinals trailed 7-5 heading into the ninth inning before scoring four runs to keep their repeat hopes alive.
Both teams kept the same roster they ended with last round. The only change was at first-base coach for the Giants, where assistant batting coach Joe Lefebvre took over after Roberto Kelly was sidelined with a concussion after being hit in the head by a foul ball in batting practice Saturday.