SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Marco Scutaro hit a two-run single and the San Francisco Giants capitalized on two St. Louis errors during a four-run fourth inning, taking a 5-1 lead over the Cardinals through six innings in Game 2 of the NL championship series Monday night.
St. Louis leads the best-of-seven series 1-0.
Angel Pagan hit his second leadoff home run of the postseason, and Brandon Belt scored on pitcher Chris Carpenter's throwing error for the first run of the fourth.
Carpenter hit a tying RBI double in the second off Ryan Vogelsong for the Cardinals' only run. Carpenter left after four innings, giving up six hits and two walks while striking out one. Three of the runs he allowed were unearned.
Vogelsong became the first Giants starter to last at least six innings in these playoffs. The 35-year-old journeyman had never started in the postseason until Game 3 at Cincinnati in the division series, much less at AT&T Park.
It was just one part of an encouraging start to Game 2 for San Francisco.
Belt doubled down the left-field line — getting some help from the bullpen mound — and Gregor Blanco chopped a single over the head of third baseman David Freese with one out in the fourth. Carpenter fielded Brandon Crawford's chopper, then threw short and wide of first base for an error to give the Giants a 2-1 lead.
After Scutaro's two-out hit to left, he advanced to second when the bouncing ball deflected off Matt Holliday's glove and trickled past him. The error also allowed Pagan to score from first and hand the Giants a 5-1 lead.
The intensity of the championship series surfaced quickly in a matchup of the last two World Series winners.
Holliday slid late and hard into the bag when he was forced out at second in the first inning, crashing into Scutaro's left leg to prevent the double play on Allen Craig's grounder. Scutaro's throw to first was late, and he lay on the ground twisting in pain while trainer Dave Groeschner and manager Bruce Bochy ran out of the dugout to attend to the second baseman.
With runners on first and third, Vogelsong got Yadier Molina to ground out to shortstop to end the threat.
Giants fans showered Holliday with boos each time he was announced at the plate. With the Giants holding a healthy lead, Scutaro was replaced by Ryan Theriot to start the sixth because of a left hip injury, the team said.
St. Louis had few highlights in this one.
Pagan pulled a 90 mph sinker from Carpenter over the arcade in right field to give San Francisco its first home lead of the playoffs and whip an orange towel-twirling crowd into a frenzy. He also hit a leadoff home run in Game 4 of the division series at Cincinnati. The only other player to hit two leadoff home runs in a single postseason was Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins in 2008.
In the second, Pete Kozma drew a two-out walk and Carpenter followed with the tying double to left-center. The right-hander is 3 for 4 with two doubles this postseason.
Former Giants right fielder Carlos Beltran doubled leading off the third inning. Vogelsong stayed steady and got help on a backhanded grab in foul territory by first baseman Belt, who ran back and to his right while avoiding a fan's outstretched glove to get Molina for the third straight out.
The sold-out crowd announced at 42,679 finally had something to cheer about.
After Sunday night's 6-4 loss to St. Louis, the Giants dropped to 0-3 at home so far during these playoffs and had been outscored 20-6 at AT&T Park. They swept the Reds at Cincinnati after dropping the first two in the division series, but will need to win at least one home game if they hope to return to the World Series for the second time in three years.
Game 3 is Wednesday night in St. Louis. Giants ace Matt Cain is scheduled to start for San Francisco against Kyle Lohse. Games 4 and 5, if necessary, also will be in St. Louis before the series shifts back to San Francisco for the final two.
Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP