Giants take NLCS Game 1, Royals extend ALCS lead

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright wipes his head during the second inning in Game 1 of the National League baseball championship series against the San Francisco Giants Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Wainwright struggles again as Cardinals fall to Giants in NLCS

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Cardinals and their fans have to be wondering what’s wrong with the staff ace.

Adam Wainwright, who won 20 games this season and was especially sharp during the stretch, struggled again Saturday in the Cardinals’ 3-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants in the NL Championship Series opener.

In two starts this postseason, Wainwright hasn’t lasted even five innings either time.

Wainwright conceded after a rough outing at Dodger Stadium in the Division Series opener that he’d aggravated an injury to the back of his right elbow that has bothered him off and on.

Following this loss, he said the elbow “is not 100 percent.”

“It was 100 percent better than it was last time I pitched. So the next time I pitch, I expect it to be better,” he said.

The bigger problem, Wainwright said, was mechanical.

“Foot’s landing too early and my arm swing is too short in the back, so I’ll correct those things and be ready next time.”

Wainwright allowed three runs, two of them earned, and six hits in just 4 2-3 innings. Against Los Angeles last week, he gave up six runs in 4 1-3 innings.

Overall, that adds up to an 8.00 ERA in a pair of playoff starts. And he’s 0-4 with a 5.14 ERA in his last five postseason games dating to last season.

Hardly resembles the pitcher who went 20-9 during the regular season, including 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA and two complete games in September while leading St. Louis to the NL Central title.

Wainwright has thrown a majors-high 512 2-3 innings in the last two years. Facing the Giants, he lacked his usual command of the strike zone and walked three.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Wainwright was “fighting without his best stuff,” but deserved a better fate.

“We make a few plays and we could still be out there playing right now,” Matheny said.

Wainwright didn’t get much help. Third baseman Matt Carpenter’s second-inning error led to one run and second baseman Kolten Wong botched a sure double-play ball, costing the Cardinals another.

Meanwhile, St. Louis hitters put up little resistance against Madison Bumgarner, who pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits. He extended his postseason road scoreless streak to 26 2-3 innings, topping the previous record of 23 set by the New York Giants’ Art Nehf from 1921-24.

“He was on top of his game,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Really was hitting spots, using all his pitches.”

Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

Trouble started for the Cardinals in the second. Right fielder Randal Grichuk just missed a great catch of Pablo Sandoval’s double, dropping the ball after crashing into the wall. Matheny briefly weighed an appeal, but passed.

A walk to Hunter Pence and a soft liner by Brandon Belt for a single loaded the bases. Travis Ishikawa’s one-out bloop single scored a run, and Carpenter let Gregor Blanco’s grounder squeeze through his legs for another.

Hunter Pence’s two-on, no-out grounder in the third should have been a double play but Wong couldn’t field it cleanly, allowing Buster Posey to move to third, and he scored on Belt’s sacrifice fly.

Sandoval continued to produce in the postseason. He was hitting .368 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his previous 18 postseason games, and had three hits with a walk and scored a run in this opener.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Royals beat Orioles, extend ALCS lead

BALTIMORE (AP) — The Kansas City Royals prefer to simply savor their exceptional performance at Camden Yards rather than ponder the historical ramifications of where it’s gotten them.

Alcides Escobar doubled in the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, Mike Moustakas extended his home run-binge and Kansas City remained perfect in the playoffs, beating the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 Saturday for a 2-0 lead in the AL Championship Series.

Now, the Royals head back to Kansas City with the knowledge that no team has ever lost a best-of-seven LCS after winning the first two games on the road.

“We don’t want to be the first team to do that,” designated hitter Billy Butler said. “That’s all I get from that.”

Lorenzo Cain had four hits, scored twice and drove in a run for the wild-card Royals, who are 6-0 in the playoffs this year, including 4-0 on the road. The Orioles hadn’t lost two in a row in Baltimore since June 28-29, but Kansas City found a way to quiet the towel-waving, screaming crowds.

“The atmosphere here is great. It didn’t affect us,” Butler said. “Now we’ll go home and see if they can play in our atmosphere.”

Moustakas homered for the fourth time in five games as the Royals won their ninth straight in the postseason, a string dating to the 1985 World Series.

“To come in here and win two games against a great team like that, it’s huge for us,” Moustakas said. “A lot of confidence going back home.”

Game 3 is Monday at Kauffman Stadium. Former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie will start for the Royals against either Wei-Yin Chen or Miguel Gonzalez.

“We know they’re a good team,” Royals closer Greg Holland said after earning his second save of the series. “You can’t really get too high on yourself.”

The Orioles and manager Buck Showalter’s team now must buck history to get Baltimore its first pennant since 1983.

“If one team can do it, it’s us,” slugger Nelson Cruz said.

“The series ain’t over,” insisted Adam Jones, who hit his first playoff home run. “If you guys (are) thinking it’s over, why are we going to show up on Monday?”

After squeezing out an 8-6 win in 10 innings on Friday night, the Royals again took apart the Baltimore bullpen with a late uprising.

With the score tied at 4 in the ninth, Omar Infante beat out an infield roller off Darren O’Day, the losing pitcher for the second straight day.

Zach Britton entered, and Moustakas laid down a bunt that moved pinch-runner Terrance Gore to second. Escobar then sliced an opposite-field grounder inside first base to bring home Gore.

Cain added an RBI single to become the only Royals player other than Hall of Famer George Brett to have a four-hit game in the postseason.

For the second time in two games, Wade Davis earned the win and Holland got three outs for the save. Holland struck out Steve Pearce with a runner on to end it.

“If you could go home 1-1, you’re going to be really, really happy,” manager Ned Yost said. “If you can go home 2-0, that’s as good as it gets.”

Baltimore’s Bud Norris allowed four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. Royals rookie Yordano Ventura left in the sixth with tightness in his right shoulder after giving up four runs and six hits.

“He’s fine,” Yost said. “I don’t anticipate him missing this next start.”

Moustakas, the No. 9 hitter, hit a solo homer that put Kansas City up 4-3 in the fourth. Although he homered only once in the last 49 games of the regular season, Moustakas now stands tied with Willie Aikens for most homers by a Royals player in a single postseason.

“Getting good pitches to hit and not missing them,” he said. “That’s pretty much it.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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