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NLCS game one, Cardinals 6, Giants 4

The Cardinals avoided the dubious distinction of blowing a 6-0 lead in a playoff game the contest after they overcame the same deficit Sunday against San Francisco.

And in the process they put themselves in excellent position to take control of the National League Championship Series with a 6-4 lead in game one.

David Freese and Carlos Beltran supplied the offense with a two-run homer apiece.

Freese's blast came in the second. In the fourth, Beltran's was part of a four-run rally. Peter Kozma and Jon Jay supplied the other two runs, each with an RBI hit. But the lead only remained comfortable until the bottom of that inning when Lance Lynn quickly came unraveled and allowed the Giants four runs of their own. 

While it was somewhat ugly, the win was a huge one for the Cardinals not just in that it's good to establish an early lead in a short series.

Game one was the big question mark for the Cardinals with Lynn, an injury replacement for Jaime Garcia, pressed into service for the start.

Lynn, of late, seems to deteriorate quickly. So I was shocked to see manager Mike Matheny leave him in long enough to give up four runs and let the Giants back into what was at one point a 6-0 Cardinals lead. Lynn has pitched on several occasions in a relief role. So it should have been no surprise that he tired early.

But the St. Louis bullpen was equally dominant as Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal, Marc Rzepczynski, Edward Mujica, Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte teamed up to shut out San Francisco for five innings.

The Cardinals, as they so often do, looked like world beaters at the bat for half the game. But, after they chased the Giants starter, they were shut down at the plate and couldn't do anything to pad their lead.

In fact, the Cardinals, who homered twice early in the game, didn't have a hit after the fourth inning.

Fortunately the St. Louis bullpen was able to return the favor and hold the Giants to one hit in the second half of the game -- a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth. 

St. Louis is now 4-1 on the road this post season with a win in Atlanta, two wins in three games in Washington and an opening win against the Giants. With a win in game two the Birds would have a chance to close things out in St. Louis. But, at the very least, they'll come home with a split. And that's the goal of a team that starts a series on the road.

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