Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia needed just 51 pitches to get through the first five innings, but threw 49 in the sixth and seventh innings in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
Though Garcia had pitched into the seventh inning just 12 times in his 32 starts during the regular season, he typically got stronger in those outings. He had a 1.04 ERA from the seventh frame on in 2011. In fact, he had allowed just two earned runs in the seventh, eighth or ninth innings (17 1/3 innings) before conceding three in Game 3.
Ben Francisco's seventh-inning blast was just the second pinch-hit long ball of his career and his first home run since May 25. His only other pinch-hit homer came on July 3, 2007, when he was with the Indians. That home run tied the game in the eighth inning, and Cleveland won in extra innings.
IT'S HOW YOU FINISH
Prior to Francisco's three-run blast, Garcia had not allowed a home run after the sixth inning of any game this season and had conceded just one homer in tie-game situations.
Cards catcher Yadier Molina's ninth-inning RBI single extended his postseason hitting streak to 12 games. That mark ties him with Mike Matheny (2001-04) for the second longest by a catcher in postseason history behind only Pat Borders (13 games, 1991-93). Molina has had at least one hit in 24 of his 34 career playoff games.
In two previous trips to the postseason with the Cubs, Redbirds second baseman Ryan Theriot recorded six hits in 23 at-bats (.261 average). He has six hits in this series alone after going 4-for-5 in Game 3 to improve to 6-for-9 (.667) in the NLDS.
The Phillies didn't provide a ton of run support for starter Cole Hamels, but they reached the three-run plateau that seems to be all the lefty needs to win. Including the regular season, Hamels is 11-0 this season when the Phils score three or more runs and 4-9 when they score two or fewer.
Hamels won for the third time this season despite throwing his final pitch with Philadelphia tied or trailing. He picked up a win against the Mets on May 28, when the Phils rallied from a 2-1 deficit by scoring three in the top of the eighth before turning it over to the bullpen in the bottom of the inning. Hamels also won a May 18 contest against the Rockies when the Phillies scored in the bottom of the eighth to snap a 1-1 tie before Ryan Madson nailed down the save in the ninth.
Teams leading, 2-1, in the NLDS have gone on to win the series 16 out of 17 times. The only Senior Circuit team to win the series after trailing, 2-1, was the 2002 Giants, who defeated the Braves and went on to lose the World Series in seven games. American League teams are 14-5 after holding a 2-1 series lead.
Paul Casella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.