The Bottom Line:

-The St. Louis Cardinals lost to the San Francisco Giants 6-1 Sunday night in Game 6 of the NLCS. The series is now tied 3-3 and will advance to a decisive game seven Monday night.

-The Giants jumped out to an early lead behind doubles by Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro. The Giants’ second and third hitters have heated up over the past few games of the series, as each are now batting over .300 for the series.

Chris Carpenter settled down after allowing 5 runs in the first two innings, finishing with 6 strikeouts in 4 innings. He allowed 5 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and 2 walks. He was hurt by more poor defense, but still allowed several well-hit balls with runners on base including Scutaro’s double.

Ryan Vogelsong posted an excellent start, striking out 9, and not allowing a hit until there were 2 outs in the 5th inning. His 9 strikeouts set a career high, and he improved to 2-0 in the series against the Cardinals.

Shelby Miller relieved Carpenter and pitched well, going 2 innings, allowing 1 hit, 0 walks, and striking out 2 , displaying the ability that elevated him to his status as one of the top prospects in all of baseball going into 2012.

-Both teams’ bullpens continued their excellent work this series combining for 7 innings with just 1 run allowed.

The Defense: The Redbirds again came up short on defense, setting an NLCS record for unearned runs allowed in a series with 10. In addition, there were a variety of misplays by Cards defenders, especially Peter Kozma and Daniel Descalso that led to an insurance run for the Giants in the bottom of the 8th. Kozma’s error on Vogelsong’s grounder in the second opened the floodgates for the Giants’ offense. The Cards absolutely must temper this defensive slump. Even Jon Jay was not immune to the defensive lapses of the team, getting a late jump on Sandoval’s first inning double.

The Pitching: Though the pitching was mediocre at best, it did hold Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, the Giants’ 3 and 4 hitters to a 1 for 8 in this game. The Cards’ pitching staff has shut down the Giants’ presumed 2 top hitters this series, holding them to .136 (Posey) and .130 (Pence) averages in the 6 games. Unfortunately, they have not been able to hold off Sandoval or Scutaro who have heated up over the last few games and now are hitting .320/.346/.600 and .458/.480/.583 in the series respectively.

What’s Next: The NLCS will go to a decisive game 7 tomorrow night in San Francisco at 7 PM CST. Matt Cain will face Kyle Lohse in the first NLCS game seven since the dramatic 2006 series between the Cardinals and New York Mets. Pre- and post-game coverage on CardsBlog as always. Go Cards!