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Giants lead Cardinals 5-0 in Game 6 of NLCS

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Giants lead Cardinals 5-0 in Game 6 of NLCS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Ryan Vogelsong struck out six during a hitless start, and the San Francisco Giants took a 5-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals through three innings in Game 6 of the NL championship series Sunday night.

St. Louis leads the series 3-2.

Trying to force a decisive Game 7 at home, Marco Scutaro hit a two-out, two-run double off Chris Carpenter to highlight San Francisco's four-run second. Buster Posey's groundout in the first also scored Scutaro and gave the NL batting champion his first RBI of the series.

Vogelsong's dominating start came almost all on fastballs and commanding cutters to energize an orange towel-twirling crowd on a cool night at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.

Fans serenaded the 35-yeard-old journeyman with chants of ``Vog-ey! Vog-ey!'' He struck out the side in the first - allowing only a one-out walk to Matt Carpenter - and mixed in a changeup to get Carlos Beltran swinging for the second out of the inning.

Matt Carpenter replaced Matt Holliday in St. Louis' lineup when the left fielder was scratched about 45 minutes before first pitch because of lower back tightness, the team said. Carpenter started at first base and batted second, Allen Craig shifted from first to left field and Beltran slid back a spot to third while playing right field.

With Vogelsong on the mound and San Francisco's offense off to a scintillating start, Holliday's absence might not have mattered much.

After Scutaro drew a one-out walk in the first, Sandoval doubled over the head of Jon Jay as the center fielder got turned around fighting the sun and shadows during the twilight start. Scutaro scored on Posey's groundout to third to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

Brandon Belt tripled to right-center leading off the second. Gregor Blanco struck out swinging and Brandon Crawford was walked intentionally.

With Crawford trying to steal second on the pitch, Vogelsong chopped a ball that shortstop Pete Kozma couldn't handle. Scutaro doubled to left and Sandoval singled on the 10th pitch against Carpenter to put the Giants ahead 5-0.

The 10 unearned runs allowed by the Cardinals over the series is the most in NLCS history, according to STATS LLC. Two teams have allowed nine.

Not exactly the start St. Louis had in mind.

The only other time the Cardinals opened a 3-1 lead in the NLCS came in 1996, when they lost to the Atlanta Braves in seven games. San Francisco, which never faced an elimination game in winning the 2010 World Series title, is 4-0 when pushed to the brink this postseason. The Giants became the first team in major league history to come back from a 0-2 deficit and win the final three games on the road when they stunned the Cincinnati Reds in the division series.

St. Louis has won its last seven games when facing elimination dating back to 2006 but the defending champions were hoping to avoid another chance to extend the streak. After falling into a 3-1 hole before winning Game 5 to force the series back to San Francisco, the Giants liked their chances to do just that.

Vogelsong became the first Giants starter to last through six innings this postseason when he allowed four hits over seven innings in a 7-1 victory in Game 2. Carpenter had been even more reliable this time of year for the Cardinals, with his 10 postseason victories the most in franchise history.

Giants ace Matt Cain would take the mound for Game 7 in San Francisco on Tuesday night against Kyle Lohse.

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Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

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With another low shot total for Otto Porter, Coach Brooks says Porter needs to do more to help himself

After a night in which Otto Porter Jr. only took nine total shots, just two of them in the second half, many questions from Wizards reporters in the postgame locker room centered on how the team can get him more involved. This came on the heels of a seven-shot, zero-three outing for Porter against the Heat on Thursday and a preseason in which getting him more attempts was a persistent storyline.

It sounds like some are tired of talking about it. Point guard John Wall, who is part of the equation as the team's main distributor and highest usage player, put it in relatively strong terms.

"This will be the last time I talk about Otto Porter getting threes," Wall said. 

Wall went on to explain how it's a combination of defenses taking away the three-point line for Porter and the flow of the game creating better shots for others. It's a common explanation Wall has given on the matter in recent weeks, and it's understandable.

Head coach Scott Brooks has admitted his own role in Porter not getting enough shots, how more plays could be called for the small forward. But after the loss to Toronto, one in which Porter played just south of 25 minutes, he was a bit more blunt in his assessment.

Brooks believes Porter can be doing a lot more to help himself.

"Gotta get yourself open," Brooks said. 

When asked about Porter playing fewer minutes than usual, Brooks went on about the need for guys to play hard. That warranted a follow-up, as it seemed Brooks was questioning Porter's hustle.

Brooks explained what he meant by that in detail.

"You've got to move. You've got to set yourself up. You've got to run the floor. We got a fast point guard. I don’t know if you guys know that but he’s fast and if our wings aren’t running, what good is it when you’re going to have a one-man break? What makes teams play with pace is guys running." 

"I love Otto. You guys know that. But he has to play faster. He has to. Physically, he’s not going to jump over anybody and dunk over everybody, but he has to get himself into position. He’s a big-time player for us. He’s a glue guy. He makes winning basketball plays. He gets in plays but he has to do that consistently for us. He can’t do it for a half. He has to do it for the entire game. The guy can do it. I’ve seen it. He didn’t do it tonight but he’s going to bounce back. He didn’t do it the first two games but he’s going to bounce back and do it. And we need it.”

Porter, 25, was the Wizards' most efficient player last season, but averaged only 11.5 shots per game. With one of the best three-point shots in the NBA, the numbers suggest he should have a larger role.

The Wizards insist they are trying to get him more involved. In their eyes, it's time for Porter to do his part.

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Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Bradley Beal honored to pass Gilbert Arenas on all-time three-pointer list

Saturday night produced a link between some of the best players in recent Wizards/Bullets franchise history.

With a fourth-quarter three, Bradley Beal surpassed Gilbert Arenas on the franchise list for career triples

Beal, an All-Star last season, has already established himself as one of the best to play for Washington in decades. Afterwards, he paid homage to the man whose record he broke.

"I was always a fan of Gil. He was Agent Zero," Beal told NBC Sports Washington. 

"I loved everything about him; his confidence, his swagger on the floor. Granted, everyone talks about his off-the-court stuff, but what he did on the court is just untouchable. It's untouchable. He's a legend, for sure. Part of me wishes I could have played with him and just learned from him in a lot of ways. That's an accomplishment for me. I'm happy I was able to surpass it because he is a legend, in my opinion anyway."

Arenas' tenure with the Wizards was epic for its highs and lows. At his peak, he was arguably the most dangerous scorer in the NBA. But his downfall both on the court and off has left him as a notorious figure in the game's recent history.

John Wall, who has assisted on many of Beal's three-pointers, played with Arenas back in the 2010-11 season as a rookie. He is happy for his current teammate, who now has a distinct place in the team's history books.

"He's probably the best shooter I've ever played with in my eyes, so it's great to see him accomplish that," Wall said. "He's going to keep setting the bar higher and higher."

Beal passed Arenas in just the second game of his seventh NBA season. He's only 25 years old, so odds are he will keep adding to his franchise record for many years to come.

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