ST. LOUIS (AP) San Francisco starter Barry Zito escaped a big jam in the second and the Giants and St. Louis Cardinals were scoreless after three innings of Game 5 of the NL championship series Friday night.
Lance Lynn did not allow a hit for the defending champion Cardinals. Up 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, St. Louis is seeking to go to consecutive World Series for the first time since 1967 and 1968. The Giants have never won a postseason series when down 3-1. But they did win three games in a row - all on the road - to overcome a 2-0 deficit and beat Cincinnati in the NL divisional series.
St. Louis missed a big chance in the second. Yadier Molina led off with a single up the middle and David Freese followed with a double down the right field line - Hunter Pence just missing a diving attempt - to put runners on second and third. But Daniel Descalso struck out and, after an intentional walk to Pete Kozma, pitcher Lance Lynn bounced into a double play. Lynn was 3 for 50 in the regular season, but hadn't hit into a double play all year.
Lynn, however, was sharp on the mound, striking out five through three innings. The Giants' lone baserunner was Gregor Blanco, who walked leading off the third.
Zito is just 58-69 with a 4.47 ERA since signing a $126 million, seven-year deal with San Francisco prior to the 2007 season. He was left off the postseason roster in 2010, when the Giants won the World Series.
But 2012 was a rebound season for the 34-year-old left-hander, going 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA. Zito went 7-0 over his last 12 starts, including a 4-2 win at St. Louis on Aug. 7. The team won all 12 of his outings. Though Zito's' ERA over the span was 4.04, the Giants averaged more than six runs per game.
The stretch included the Giants' 8-3 win in Game 4 in Cincinnati. Zito lasted just 2 2-3 innings, allowing two runs in his only other postseason appearance this season.
Zito faced the Cardinals just once this season. He is 2-6 with a 4.89 ERA lifetime against St. Louis, and several Cardinals had done well against him: Allen Craig entered the game 4 for 10 with three homers, Molina 6 for 16, Jon Jay 3 for 5.
Lynn was a surprise All-Star after moving from the bullpen into the rotation when Chris Carpenter was lost to a nerve injury in spring training. An 18-game winner, Lynn was much better in the first half than the second. He was 11-4 with a 3.41 ERA at the All-Star break, 7-3 with a 4.32 ERA after and was briefly relegated to the bullpen.
He lasted just 3 2-3 innings after being handed a 6-0 lead in Game 1 of the NLCS, allowing all four runs in the Cardinals' 6-4 win.