SAN FRANCISCO — Hunter Pence hit a bizarre, two-run double, Matt Cain pitched his second clincher of October and the San Francisco Giants won their record-tying sixth elimination game of the postseason, beating the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals 9-0 in Game 7 of the NL championship series Monday night.
Marco Scutaro matched an LCS record with 14 hits in the series and Pablo Sandoval drove in a run for his fifth straight game. The Giants returned to the World Series two years after winning it all, getting the final out in a downpour.
The Detroit Tigers, who have been waiting on their opponent since finishing a four-game ALCS sweep of the Yankees last Thursday, get another trip to the Bay Area after clinching the division series in Oakland.
Pence drove in two runs with a slicing, broken-bat double during a five-run third inning that chased Kyle Lohse as the Giants took a 7-0 lead.
Scutaro singled twice and walked, and 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.
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.
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.