ST. LOUIS ‚?? Barry Zito pitched the San Francisco Giants back into the NL championship series, dominating into the eighth inning of a 5-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night that narrowed their deficit to 3-2.
The defending champion Cardinals might have thrown away a chance to clinch a second straight World Series trip. Pitcher Lance Lynn‚??s toss on a possible forceout deflected off the second-base bag, paving the way for the Giants‚?? four-run fourth.
Pablo Sandoval homered for the second straight night and Zito made an extremely rare offensive contribution with a perfectly executed bunt for an RBI single.
The Giants‚?? win in Game 5 sent the series back to San Francisco. Game 6 will begin Sunday in the twilight at AT&T Park, with Ryan Vogelsong pitching against the Cardinals‚?? Chris Carpenter.
Once again this postseason, the Giants benefited from a big error.
Needing three straight wins at Cincinnati to avoid elimination in the division series, San Francisco began its comeback on a bobble by third baseman Scott Rolen in the 10th inning that gave the Giants the go-ahead run in Game 3.
The Giants improved to 4-2 on the road this postseason and have won Zito‚??s last 13 starts, with the last setback on Aug. 2. They‚??re averaging more than six runs a game during the streak, although the lefty didn‚??t need much help in this one.
Zito looked like the same guy who won the 2002 AL Cy Young award. He retired 11 batters in a row in one stretch while scattering six hits with six strikeouts in 7 2-3 innings.
Giants catcher Buster Posey twice tapped Zito on the chest when he was pulled in the eighth inning. It was Zito‚??s first postseason win since 2006, shortly before he left the A‚??s and signed a $126 million, seven-year contract with San Francisco.
Zito was left off the postseason roster when the Giants won the 2010 World Series because he had pitched so ineffectively. He started Game 4 of the division series against the Reds earlier in this year‚??s playoffs and lasted only 2 2-3 innings.