MLB playoff: Kolten Wong goes long to lift Cardinals over Giants

MLB playoff: Kolten Wong goes long to lift Cardinals over Giants

Kolten Wong`s game-winning solo shot in the ninth inning was one of four St. Louis homers Sunday in a dramatic 5-4 Major League Baseball playoff win over San Francisco.

With the victory, the Cardinals knotted the best-of-seven National League final at one game apiece.

The series shifts to San Francisco on Tuesday, where the teams will continue to battle for a chance to take on either Kansas City or Baltimore in the World Series.

After the Cardinals surrendered a tying run in the top of the ninth, Wong led off the bottom half of the frame by belting an 0-1 pitch from Giants reliever Sergio Romo to right field.

"I just tried to put a good at-bat together and get on base," Wong said.

Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams turned on a 97 mph (156 kmh) fastball from Hunter Strickland in the bottom of the eighth to give the Cardinals a 4-3 lead.

But with one out in the top of the ninth, St. Louis closing pitcher Trevor Rosenthal gave up singles to pinch-hitter Andrew Susac and Juan Perez.

Gregor Blanco then lined out to a leaping Jhonny Peralta at shortstop.

Giants second baseman Joe Panik ran the count to 3-2 against Rosenthal before the Cardinals hurler delivered a pitch into the dirt in front of home plate.

Tony Cruz, who had replaced injured Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina behind the plate, lost track of the wildly bouncing ball and pinch-runner Matt Duffy raced home with the tying run.

The Giants went on to load the bases, but Cardinals reliever Seth Maness retired Pablo Sandoval on a ground ball to end the danger.

Matt Carpenter and Oscar Taveras also homered for the Cardinals, who snapped the Giants` seven-game road post-season winning streak.

St. Louis, whose 105 regular-season homers were the least of any team in the National League, have now hit 11 home runs in six playoff games.

"It`s a great time for us to bust out with some power," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Right now they`re just taking nice short strokes and the ball is jumping."The Cardinals were stung by the loss of Molina in the sixth inning with a strained left oblique muscle.

The game was tied at 2-2 when Molina grounded into a double play, then doubled over in the batter`s box.

It was not immediately clear what his status would be for the rest of the series.

"Right now we don`t have all the information," Matheny said. "Tough losing him in the middle of the game, for sure.

"You never want to lose one of your big players, especially one that brings so much to the table."

St. Louis starting pitcher Lance Lynn surrendered six hits and two runs in five and two-thirds innings, while San Francisco`s Jake Peavy lasted four innings.

Carpenter homered to open the scoring in the third, and the Cardinals made it 2-0 in the fourth when Randal Grichuk`s single scored Adams.

The Giants pulled a run back in the fifth, and tied it in the sixth before Blanco drove in a run in the top of the seventh to put San Francisco ahead 3-2.

A pinch-hitting Taveras tied it up again with his seventh-inning solo homer off Jean Machi.

The Cardinals are trying to reach the World Series for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

They fell to Boston in baseball`s championship showcase last year, while their 2011 triumph was sandwiched between the title runs of San Francisco in 2010 and 2012.

Despite the defeat, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants were heading home with plenty of confidence.

"We feel good," he said. "To come in here and get the first game -- you want to get greedy and get the second one. And we were close to doing that."

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