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Giants beat Cards to force NLCS decider

San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro (R) celebrates defeating the St. Louis Cardinals with teammate Hunter Pence at the conclus
San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro (R) celebrates defeating the St. Louis Cardinals with teammate Hunter Pence at the conclus

(Reuters) - The San Francisco Giants fought off elimination from the National League Championship Series yet again on Sunday, beating the visiting St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to force a deciding Game Seven.

Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong delivered seven stellar innings that included a career-high nine strikeouts to help tie the best-of-seven series at 3-3.

On Friday, Barry Zito had helped keep the Giants' season alive, pitching into the eighth inning of a 5-0 shutout that extended the NLCS to a sixth game where Vogelsong took over.

"I just tried to emulate (Zito) and get some momentum going our way," Vogelsong told reporters after helping the Giants avoid elimination for the fifth time this postseason.

The Giants had fought back from a 2-0 deficit in the division series by beating the Reds in three straight games in Cincinnati. They will now host the defending World Series champions in Game Seven on Monday with the winner advancing to face Detroit.

"This place is going to be loud, I can tell you that," Vogelsong said. "I anticipate (Matt Cain) throwing a great game (against St. Louis' Kyle Lohse)."

The Cardinals' former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter failed to get the better of Vogelsong once again on Sunday. Vogelsong also got the win when the pair took the mound in Game Two.

After going 1-0 up in the first inning, San Francisco opened up a 5-0 lead thanks to four runs in the second where Marco Scutaro batted a two-run double and Pablo Sandoval added a run-scoring single to the delight of the AT&T Park crowd. The home team added another run in the eighth.

Scutaro, who injured his hip when Matt Holliday slid into him in Game Two, is batting .458 with four RBIs this series.

"We're the kind of team that never gives up, and it seems like we play better when we're against the wall," Scutaro said. "(Monday), we'll go out there and do our best."

Vogelsong, in his first postseason campaign, breezed through a St. Louis lineup that was missing Holliday, scratched with tightness in his back, and allowed just four hits and one RBI single to Allen Craig in the sixth.

Relievers Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla combined to pitch the eighth and Sergio Romo shut down the Cards in the ninth.

(Reporting by Jahmal Corner, Editing by Peter Rutherford; jahmalcorner@gmail.com)

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