The San Francisco Giants will look to bounce back from a heart-breaking road loss when they host the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park.
Cardinals outfielder Kolten Wong hit a ninth-inning walkoff homer in the bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday to even the best-of-seven series, 1-1. The winning run came after St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal conceded the tying run in the top of the ninth off a wild pitch that scored Matt Duffy from second base.
The Cardinals will be without star catcher Yadier Molina, who suffered an oblique injury in Game 2. Manager Mike Matheny, a former catcher, will turn to Tony Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski for the rest of the series. Molina recorded just five hits and only one extra-base hit in 21 at-bats this postseason, but the 32-year-old is a six-time Gold Glove winner, and finished the 2014 season with a .282 batting average and seven home runs.
Bruce Bochy will send veteran starter Tim Hudson to the mound for San Francisco. The 39-year-old last pitched on Oct. 4, when he gave up just one run over 7 1/3 innings, while not allowing a walk. On June 1, Hudson allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. However, Hudson had just a 3.94 earned-run average at AT&T Park in 2014.
Bochy has enjoyed solid play from the bullpen in the postseason. In Game 1, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla retired all four batters they faced. But in Game 2, the relievers allowed three runs over four innings, and right-hander Hunter Strickland had another poor performance in which he gave up a home run to a left-handed bat for the fourth time in the playoffs. Bochy indicated he may make some changes after the eight-inning home run by Matt Adams, but will continue to keep Strickland in his plans.
"We may have to tweak things," Bochy said on Monday. "But this kid's still going to be part of our sixth, seventh inning."
The Cardinals will go with John Lackey, who also delivered a strong performance in his lone postseason start. Against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Oct. 6, the 11-year veteran allowed just five hits and one run over seven innings.
After two poor outings in the postseason, Matheny continues to have confidence in Rosenthal. The 24-year-old has allowed two earned runs in 3 and 2/3 innings against the Dodgers and Giants.
"I'll start with the back end of that -- yes, he's still our closer, and hopefully we have a lead late in the game where we can watch him go again," Matheny said.
NLCS Game 3 (Best of 7; Series tied, 1-1)
Prediction: Giants over Cardinals, 2-1
Start Time: 4:07 pm ET
TV Channel: FOX Sports 1
Live Stream: http://www.foxsports.com/foxsportsgo/
An IBTimes Staff Reporter contributed to this report.