Madison Bumgarner pitched seven and two-thirds sparkling innings on Saturday to lead San Francisco to a 3-0 victory over St. Louis in their Major League Baseball playoff series opener.
Bumgarner struck out seven, walked just one and the Giants took full advantage of defensive lapses by the Cardinals to take the lead in the best-of-seven National League final.
The winner of the series will play either the Kansas City Royals or Baltimore Orioles in the World Series.
As well as the win, Bumgarner found himself with a Major League Baseball record with 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched in road playoff games.
He helped the Giants post their seventh straight post-season victory on the road.
"He was on top of his game," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He executed all night against a tough lineup."
San Francisco slugger Pablo Sandoval went 3-for-4 at the plate with a walk and a run scored, while Brandon Belt and Travis Ishikawa drove in a run apiece for the Giants.
Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright again struggled, allowing three runs -- two earned -- and surrendering six hits and three walks in four and two-thirds innings.
Wainwright, who was reported to be dealing with a sore elbow late in the season, has allowed nine runs in nine innings in these playoffs, although he insisted before the game that the elbow problem was "way overblown."San Francisco put their first two runs on the board in the second inning, as Sandoval led off the frame with a double to right and scored on Ishikawa`s single.
Gregor Blanco then drove a shot to third base that glanced off the glove of Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter and rolled through his legs, the error allowing Hunter Pence to score.
"They capitalized," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny. "We knew that going in. It was probably going to be that kind of game. It`s probably going to be that kind of series."
The Giants added another run in the third, aided by another St. Louis miscue.
After the Giants started the inning with back-to-back singles by Buster Posey and Sandoval, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong was unable to turn a double play on a ground ball.
Sandoval was out at second, leaving runners on the corners, and Belt`s sacrifice fly scored Posey.
The three runs were all the support Bumgarner needed.
The Cardinals will try to level the series when they host game two on Sunday.
St. Louis will give the ball to pitcher Lance Lynn, and Jake Peavy will take the hill for San Francisco.
Whatever the outcome of the series one thing is certain -- this will be the fifth straight year that either St. Louis or San Francisco will represent the National League in the World Series.
The Cardinals are trying to reach the World Series for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.
The Giants are back in the National League championship series for the third time in five years and trying to repeat their World Series successes of 2010 and 2012.
Those triumphs were sandwiched around the Cardinals` 2011 championship, but St. Louis fell to Boston in baseball`s title showcase last year.