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Giants lead Cardinals 7-0 in Game 7 of NLCS

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Giants lead Cardinals 7-0 in Game 7 of NLCS

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Hunter Pence drove in two runs with a slicing, broken-bat double during a five-run third inning that chased Kyle Lohse, and the San Francisco Giants took a 7-0 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals through six innings in the decisive Game 7 of the NL championship series Monday night.

Marco Scutaro singled twice and walked, and Pablo Sandoval had a run-scoring groundout in the first that gave him an RBI in five straight games to match a Giants postseason record. Home run king Barry Bonds set the mark in 2002.

Matt Cain worked out of a jam behind a strong defensive effort and extended San Francisco's lead with a two-out single in the second. A Giants pitcher has driven in a run in three straight games. During that same span, St. Louis has scored one run as a team.

Cain left after 5 2-3 innings of five-hit ball. He struck out four and walked one in another solid start for San Francisco's ace.

Lohse left after he walked Buster Posey to load the bases with no outs in the third. Pence then connected on a pitch from reliever Joe Kelly that broke his bat.

The ball hit his bat twice more to create an awkward spin that fooled shortstop Pete Kozma, who first broke to the right. Kozma could not recover to field the ball slicing to his left and it went for a double. A third run scored when center fielder Jon Jay misplayed the ball for an error.

The hit highlighted a run-scoring blitz that put the Cardinals in a major hole and whipped an orange towel-twirling crowd at AT&T Park into a frenzy.

The winner of the game between the past two World Series champions will host the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night.

After some light rain during batting practice, sunshine broke through and a rainbow formed beyond the outfield, providing another scenic San Francisco backdrop.

And once again, the Giants started strong.

Cain struck out Jay on four pitches before Carlos Beltran blooped a single to center to open the first inning. Beltran stole second with two outs - moving to 11 for 11 for his career in the postseason, the most steals ever without getting caught in a postseason career - but Cain got Allen Craig to pop out to third.

In the bottom of the inning, Pagan and Scutaro singled to put runners on first and third. Pagan scored on Sandoval's groundout to give the Giants a 1-0 lead, although San Francisco squandered chances for more when Lohse quickly retired Posey and Pence.

The team that had scored first is 5-1 in the series. The one loss came in Game 3, when St. Louis rallied to beat the Giants 3-1 with Cain and Lohse on the mound.

Cain, who threw a perfect game against Houston earlier this season, was hardly at his dominating best - but his defense helped clean up his mistakes.

Yadier Molina singled and David Freese walked leading off the second. Molina moved to third when first baseman Brandon Belt made a diving stop on Daniel Descalso's grounder, throwing from his knees to get Freese at second. After Cain struck out Kozma, shortstop Brandon Crawford leaped to catch Lohse's soft liner to keep St. Louis scoreless.

Cain singled to center to score Gregor Blanco from second in the bottoming of the inning. Lohse cut off the relay throw and fans roared to their feet in celebration.

Crawford added another RBI in the third inning when Kozma fielded a weak grounder and threw home late, and Pagan grounded into a fielder's choice to put San Francisco ahead 7-0.

Lohse left after allowing six hits, walking one and striking out one.

Adding to St. Louis' sourness, San Francisco appeared to get some revenge on Matt Holliday for his hard and admitted late slide into Scutaro in Game 2 that strained the second baseman's left hip. Cain hit Holliday in the upper left arm on an 0-2 pitch in the sixth. Holliday just jogged to first.

Lefty Jeremy Affeldt got Descalso to pop out with two runners on for the final out of St. Louis' sixth.

About the only thing the Cardinals could rely on was history - at least recent history, anyway. St. Louis overcame a 6-0 deficit to stun the Washington Nationals in the decisive Game 5 of the division series.

Only this time, the stakes were even higher - and the deficit even larger.

The Giants were going for their 20th pennant while the Cardinals were chasing their 19th. In winner-take-all Game 7s, the Cardinals are 11-4 and the Giants are 0-5.

Since 1976, 14 home teams have won a Game 6 to force Game 7, with 13 of the 14 going on to win Game 7, according to STATS LLC. The lone loser was the 2006 Mets against the Cardinals. Beltran struck out looking with the bases loaded on Adam Wainwright's curveball for the final out in New York's 3-1 loss.

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 5-0 when pushed to the edge this postseason.

St. Louis has won its last six games when facing elimination.

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

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Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

Adam Eaton calls Todd Frazier ‘childish’ after the ex-teammates get into it again

NEW YORK -- Normal is not something the Nationals do this season.

Monday’s pivot from the mundane -- an otherwise run-of-the-mill 5-3 baseball game -- came when Adam Eaton was jogging toward the visitors dugout in the bottom of the third inning when he stopped to respond to New York third baseman Todd Frazier, whom Eaton said was chirping at him all night.

This is not new. The two were teammates on the Chicago White Sox in 2016 and did not get along. Last year, Frazier and Eaton also had an exchange. The one Monday night at Citi Field prompted several members of the Nationals to hop over the dugout railing while Frazier and Eaton were being restrained near the first base bag. First base umpire Mike Estabrook cutoff Eaton who was walking toward Frazier after initially heading to the dugout following a 4-6-3 double play which ended the inning for the Nationals. When Frazier came toward the Mets dugout from his position at third base, the two began their spat.

Afterward, Frazier declined to comment in the Mets’ clubhouse, saying only, “It was nothing.” Eaton took the opportunity to expound on his displeasure with the incident, its continuation and Frazier himself.

“Yeah, I don’t know,” Eaton said. “Gosh, who knows what goes through that guy’s mind? He’s chirping all the way across the infield. He must really like me, [because] he wants to get my attention it seems like every time we come into town, he really cares what I think about him. I don’t know what his deal is, if he wants to talk to me in person or have a visit or what it is. But he’s always yelling across the infield at me, making a habit of it.

“He’s one of those guys who always says it loud enough that you hear it but can’t understand it. So, he’s making a habit of it. I ignored him a couple times chirping coming across, but I had it to the point where I’m not going to say the saying I want to say but you got to be a man at some point. So, I turned around, had a few choice words with him. It’s funny, I was walking towards him, he didn’t really want to walk towards me but as soon as someone held him back then he was all of a sudden he was really impatient, like trying to get towards me. Just being Todd Frazier. What’s new?”

Asked if he is surprised such exchanges are still happening three years after they played together, Eaton said he was.

“Yes, absolutely,” Eaton said. “He’s very childish. I’m walking with my head down, play’s over, I’m walking away. I can still hear him. I’m a 30-year-old man with two kids, got a mortgage and everything. He wants to loud talk as he’s running off the field. At the end of the day, I got to be a man about it. I tried to stay patient with the childishness, but it is what it is. I got to stand up eventually.”

He did, and what could have been merely Game 47 for a struggling team turned out to be something else.

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

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Patrick Corbin’s rough beginning a hole Nationals can’t emerge from

NEW YORK -- The Washington Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 5-3, Monday to drop their record to 19-28. Here are five observations from the game…

1. A wondrous, very Mets day preceded the game.

Their general manager, Brodie Van Wagenen, held a press conference to announce...Yoenis Cespedes -- already out because of dual heel surgeries -- suffered multiple ankle fractures during a ranch accident over the weekend. Van Wagenen then went on to profess his support for maligned New York manager Mickey Callaway -- for the most part. Last, and most important to writers, three boxes of donuts were in the press box with a note: “Have a great series! -- BVW”.

Things are always a little different in Flushing. That was a problem for the Nationals.

In what could be labeled a “reverse-lock” situation, Washington’s $140 million starter, Patrick Corbin, was outpitched by unknown and often ineffective Wilmer Font, whom the Nationals smacked around just five days ago. The Nationals, as they often do, dragged themselves back into the game after trailing 4-0. A Juan Soto single drove in Anthony Rendon in the eighth to cut the lead to 4-3. Rendon was on base four times.

And, again, it was just enough to produce a close loss. Washington put two runners on with none out against dynamic New York closer Edwin Diaz before Kurt Suzuki flew out, Trea Turner grounded into a fielder's choice and Adam Eaton flew out.

The Nationals drop to nine games under .500 following one-run and two-run defeats. They also fell to 2-14 in series openers.

2. A rough, short evening for Corbin.

He trudged through the night on 98 pitches. Corbin lasted just five innings. He walked three, gave up four earned runs, struck out seven.

His night was a mess early. Amed Rosario and Pete Alonso homered in the first inning. Two walks in the third -- one with two outs -- led to two more runs scoring. He zipped through the fourth and fifth before being removed.

Corbin has endured two blowups this season in an otherwise quality first two months: Monday and April 29 against St. Louis. The latter outing featured four walks and a homer allowed against one of the league’s better offenses. Monday’s bad outing came against a Mets lineup which did not feature Robinson Cano to start and entered the evening 21st in wOBA.

Bad timing. Bad night.

3. Tanner Rainey made his Nationals debut Monday. He was interesting.

Rainey gave up a hustle double to pinch-hitter Cano -- yes, hustle and Cano -- but otherwise showed a sharp fastball-slider combination.

Rainey was the return for Tanner Roark in the offseason trade that sent Roark to Cincinnati during the Winter Meetings.

He has command trouble. He also throws 98-100 mph with ease. Asked in spring training where that velocity comes from, Rainey said his legs and weight lifting. No secret sauce. He lifted more, he threw harder. And he subsequently repeated the process.

Rainey’s velocity will always intrigue. The question is if he can command his two-pitch arsenal enough to become an actual bullpen weapon. The baseline tools are there.

4. A shuffle in the relief corps is coming.

Tony Sipp (oblique) was activated from the 10-day injured list Monday. Dan Jennings was designated for assignment. That experiment is over. Jennings signed a minor-league contract April 15. He was in the majors April 30. He’s gone less than a month later. He did not pitch well.

The Nationals claimed right-handed Javy Guerra off waivers Monday. Guerra was designated for assignment by Toronto. Guerra pitched 14 innings for the Blue Jays this season, with a 3.86 ERA and 3.17 FIP. In other words, distinctly better than most in the Nationals bullpen.

Washington expects Guerra to arrive in New York on Tuesday. Kyle McGowin is likely to be sent back to Triple-A Fresno to make room. So, two fresh pitchers in the bullpen early in the week.

Trevor Rosenthal should also be back shortly. He is expected to throw an inning for Double-A Harrisburg on Tuesday. Rainey will likely be sent back to the minor leagues to make room there.

And, a situation in West Palm Beach, Fla., to keep an eye on: reliever Austen Williams had to be shut down to allow his shoulder to rest. Williams threw 40 pitches at the spring training facility the first week of May, when he appeared on his way back from the 10-day injured list. However, he has stopped throwing after experiencing further shoulder soreness. He was placed on the injured list April 19 because of a sprained right AC joint.

5. Matt Adams worked with the team on the field Monday, which he expects to do the next two days.

He’s on the verge of being activated before the week is out.

“I watched him [Monday] and he took some really good swings,” Martinez said. “We’ll see how he feels [Tuesday]. I’m assuming that he might be a little sore, because he did take some swings and he’s going to continue to do baseball activities [Monday]. But we’ll see how he feels.”

Adams’ 15-day absence has handcuffed Martinez in multiple ways. Take Sunday. Right-handed slider-thrower Steve Cishek on the mound. Left-handed hitters’ OPS against Cishek is 143 points higher than right-handers. But, no Adams meant no left-handed pinch-hitter.

Those issues should be over soon.

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