Cardinals shove Giants to edge of elimination

Down two games, needing to win three straight to avoid elimination. The Giants have been here before.

With their backs against the wall yet again, the Giants will need to win three in a row again if they want to continue playing in 2012.

The Giants have a tough road ahead of them after losing Game 4 of the NLCS 8-3 to the Cardinals.

Tim Lincecum was trusted to make his first start of the postseason in a must-win game — and couldn’t escape the first inning without giving up two runs. From that point on, the Giants had to play catch-up against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.

Lincecum settled down after the rocky first and held the Cardinals scoreless until the fifth when battery mate Hector Sanchez let him down by having the relay throw clank off his closed glove, allowing Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter to score the third run.

The throw from Brandon Crawford beat Carpenter by 10 feet, but it appeared that Sanchez closed his glove too soon.

After the game, Bochy talked about Lincecum’s performance:

“He was cutting himself off, had trouble getting the ball where he wanted.”

“We brought him back a little early and he gave us all he had.”

“He just didn’t have his good command early.”

Two batters later. Yadier Molina drove in Matt Holliday with a single, ending Lincecum’s night. He gave up four runs on six hits, walked three and struck out just three. Not a disaster, but the Giants needed a better performance.

Lincecum was pretty honest about his outing.

“There wasn’t any lack of confidence.”

“That second inning was a little bit laborous (sic). That third and fourth were a little bit better. I thought I could carry it a little bit further, but I ran into some bumps in the fifth.”

With the lineup struggling to score runs, Bochy decided to shake up the lineup, flip-flopping Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval in the 3-4 slots. Hector Sanchez started at catcher, hitting fifth, and Hunter Pence dropped to sixth in the lineup.

But the lineup didn’t produce as Bochy had hoped. Posey, Sandoval and Sanchez went a combined 1-for-12 with Sandoval hitting a too-little-too-late two-run home run in the ninth inning.

Pence did hit a second inning home run, accounting for the Giants first run of the game.

Pence has been trying to figure things out all postseason. He finally has a playoff RBI:

“I felt like I had better at-bats today. I still, maybe, would like to get more hits.”

Friday, The Giants will put their season in the hands of Barry Zito in a do-or-die Game 5 in St. Louis. Bochy is standing behind his decision to start Zito:

“We have all the confidence in Barry tomorrow.”

Bochy wasn’t ready to concede the series to the Cardinals.

“It’s not over. We’ve been in this position.”

“They’ll be out there fighting tomorrow. We’ve been through a lot this year. We’ve got to come out, try to win the game tomorrow and see if we can get this thing back home.”