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Madison Bumgarner nearly goes distance in Giants' 3-0 win over Cardinals

Madison Bumgarner nearly goes distance in Giants' 3-0 win over Cardinals
Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner, left, is congratulated by first baseman Brandon Belt after tagging out a Cardinals batter at first base in the seventh inning of Game 1 in the NLCS on Saturday. (Jamie Squire / Getty Images)

This is not the postseason of the ace.

If pitching wins in October, the best pitching ought to win the most. Not this October.

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Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher on the planet? Two tries, no wins. Jon Lester and Stephen Strasburg? One try for each, no wins. The Detroit Tigers' Cy Young Award trio of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price? One game for each, one series sweep, no wins.

Adam Wainwright, top gun among the St. Louis Cardinals? He has started twice this postseason, and he has yet to make it out of the fifth inning. His team won the first game, but only because Kershaw had the more spectacular meltdown.

Wainwright tried again Saturday, this time without a bailout from his offense, and with the rare ace performance from the opposing pitcher.

"I expect to be great," Wainwright said. "I was not great. The pitcher who pitched against us was."

Madison Bumgarner accounted for all but four outs, as the San Francisco Giants beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, in the opener of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. Sergio Romo got the last out of the eighth inning, and Santiago Casilla worked the final inning to finish the four-hitter.

Bumgarner did not make much of the fact that he has won two more games this October than Kershaw, Lester, Strasburg, Scherzer, Verlander and Price combined.

"It's a crazy game," Bumgarner said. "It just shows you anything can happen."

Should Bumgarner rank along all those well-publicized aces?

"I'm biased," Giants catcher Buster Posey said, "but, yeah, I think he's up there with the best. Look at the big games he's already pitched in his career."

Bumgarner lowered his earned-run average this October to 0.76. He also set a major league record by extending his streak of consecutive scoreless road postseason innings to 262/3, a streak that started in 2010. The record was held by Art Nehf, of the New York Giants, in 1921-24.

"That's pretty cool, to have any kind of record," Bumgarner said. "There's stats for everything nowadays."

In 10 postseason appearances, Bumgarner's ERA is 2.58.

The Cardinals got one runner to second base in the first six innings. They did not get a runner to third base until the seventh, an inning that had a couple of curious twists.

Bumgarner, working with a 3-0 lead, got the first out. Yadier Molina and Jon Jay followed with consecutive singles, and Kolten Wong tapped a soft grounder that pulled San Francisco first baseman Brandon Belt well off the bag.

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Bumgarner ran to first base to catch the toss from Belt and tagged out Wong, before either the pitcher or the hitter got to the base.

Pinch-hitter Tony Cruz then struck out.

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