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NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES

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GIANTS AT CARDINALS

7:07 p.m. Saturday • St. Louis • Fox

These teams have dominated the National League this decade, combining for the past four pennants and three World Series titles. After relying on stellar pitching during those two title runs, the Giants are more balanced this year, finishing fifth in the NL in runs and seventh in ERA. St. Louis' Adam Wainwright is one of baseballs elite starters and probably was the MVP of a team that was inconsistent offensively But the Cardinals' rotation is deep, and the back end of the bullpen has been solid, too.

PROJECTED ROTATION

LH Madison Bumgarner (18-10, 2.98 ERA), RH Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73), RH Tim Hudson (9-13,3.57), RH Ryan Vogelsong (8-13,4.00).

RELIEVERS

RH Santiago Casilla (3-3,1.70,19 saves), RH Sergio Romo (6-4, 3.72, 23 saves), LH Jeremy Affeldt (4-2, 2.28), LH Javier Lopez (1-1, 3.11), RH Jean Machi (7-1, 2.58, 2 saves), RH Hunter Strickland (1-0, 0.00 in 9 games), RH Yusmeiro Petit (5-5, 3.69), RH Tim Lincecum (12-9, 4.74).

PROJECTED ROTATION

RH Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.74), RH John Lackey (14-10, 3.82), RH Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74).

RELIEVERS

RH Trevor Rosenthal (2-6, 3.20, 45 saves), RH Pat Neshek (7-2, 1.87, 6 saves), LH Marco Gonzales (4-2, 4.15), RH Seth Maness (6-4, 2.91, 3 saves), LH Sam Freeman (2-0, 2.61), RH Carlos Martinez (2-4, 4.03,1 save), LH Randy Choate (2-2, 4.50), RH Michael Wacha (5-6,3.20).

Storylines to watch

TIME WARP

Working on 10 days' rest, Wainwright threw up a dud in the Division Series opener when he was tagged for six runs and 11 hits in 4% innings at Dodger Stadium. There's some concern that he didn't have much life on his pitches in that game, perhaps a result of fatigue from being such a reliable innings-eater all year. But he was 5-0 in September with a 1.38 ERA and two complete games. He lost once to the Giants during the season.

LEADOFF LOSS

The Giants miss Angel Pagan's bat at the top of the lineup. He batted .304 from the leadoff spot this season, fifth - highest in the majors. Blanco has struggled in his place, going 2 for 22 in the playoffs and battingjust .213 from the No. lspot in the regular season, the fourth-lowest mark in the big leagues.

POWER SURGE

After totaling a paltry 105 homers this season, second-fewest in the majors ahead of only Kansas City, the Cardinals finally flexed their muscles in the Division Series. They belted seven homers in four games, including five by left-handed hitters off Dodgers lefties. Carpenter, who had eight homers in the regular season, joined Albert Pujols (2004) as the only Cardinals players to homer in three consecutive postseason games. Carpenter made the most of his six hits, totaling seven RBIs.

POTENT PANDA

Sandoval has keyed San Francisco's postseason success during the past two trips, even after having his 14-game postseason hitting streak snapped in the clincher vs. the Nationals. Kung Fu Panda is batting .368 with six homers and 14 RBIs in his past 18 postseason games. That includes his three-homer performance in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit on the way to MVP honors.

LATE-NIGHT LIGHTNING

The Cardinals scored eight runs in the seventh inning to stun Kershaw in the NLDS opener and totaled one hit before their rally in the seventh during the Game 4 clincher. In the 2011 World Series, they were down to their last strike before beating Texas in Game 6, and in the 2012 playoffs they shocked Washington late before falling short against the Giants.

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