for this game

Ishikawa HR puts Giants in World Series again

Oct 17, 2014 - 5:06 AM San Francisco, CA ( - The first teammate reached Travis Ishikawa before he even made it to third base.

Some were waiting down the line, the rest around home plate.

On a night when the San Francisco Giants finally found their power stroke, Ishikawa had the biggest blow of them all.

Ishikawa stroked a dramatic three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning Thursday night to lead the Giants into the World Series for the third time in five years.

The 6-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series included three home runs by the Giants, who had gone six games -- and 242 plate appearances -- without one, surviving most of the time on mishmash rallies.

Two of the home runs came after the Cardinals pulled Adam Wainwright despite their ace retiring the last 10 batters he faced, including six on strikeouts.

Michael Morse, batting for series MVP Madison Bumgarner, tied the game with a pinch-hit homer off Pat Neshek leading off the eighth inning on the third Cardinals pitch not thrown by Wainwright.

After Jeremy Affeldt (1-0) cleaned up Santiago Casilla's bases-loaded, two-out mess in the top of the ninth, the Cardinals sent 2013 NLCS MVP Michael Wacha (0-1) to the mound in the bottom of the inning for his first appearance in 20 days.

Pablo Sandoval led off with a single, Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk and Ishikawa looked at two balls before lining a 96 mph fastball into the seats above right field.

"I was looking fastball. I knew that he didn't want to get behind 3-0 with a chance to walk the bases loaded, so I was trying to be aggressive," Ishikawa said.

The outfielder, who played more games in the minors this season than he did in the majors with the Pirates and Giants, trotted down the first-base line with his arms extended and pumped his fist as he rounded the bag. He didn't even make it to third before a teammate in a Giants jacket met him to celebrate.

Ishikawa spiked his helmet on the third-base line and jumped into a mob of his teammates.

He said he doesn't remember touching third base or home plate after nudging the teammate out of the way.

"The next thing I remember is being thrown down with my jersey ripped off," he said. "I was just so out of breath from yelling and screaming (that) I had to have guys help me stand back up to finish celebrating."

It was the fourth walk-off home run to send a team to the World Series in postseason history -- though not the most famous Giants walk-off to win a pennant.

Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" won the 1951 pennant for the New York Giants over the Brooklyn Dodgers in an NL tie-breaker series.

"We knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight," said Bumgarner. "That was as fun a game as you can have."

Bumgarner, who beat Wainwright in Game 1 with 7 2/3 shutout innings, set down the last 13 batters he faced after giving up home runs to Matt Adams and Tony Cruz in the fourth inning, which gave the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

Wainwright had seven strikeouts -- three against the meat of the Giants order in the sixth inning, when he retired Buster Posey, Sandoval and Hunter Pence on 13 pitches.

Giants closer Santiago Casilla pushed his streak to 17 consecutive postseason appearances without allowing a run -- but not without some drama.

The bases were loaded in the top of the ninth when Affeldt replaced Casilla with two outs and made the play himself to end the inning, fielding Oscar Taveras' grounder and racing to touch first base.

A key play came when the Giants were able to get a force out at second base after Sandoval, the third baseman, dove to deflect a sharp grounder and it went right to shortstop Brandon Crawford.

"You can look at the bright side. We lost four games and won only one, but we were in every game," said Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter. "To get to the World Series you have to catch some breaks and we didn't catch any."

The Giants won the last three games and will face the AL-champion Royals in the World Series beginning with Game 1 on Tuesday in Kansas City.

The Royals swept Baltimore to reach the Fall Classic for the first time in 29 years and have not lost since making the playoffs as an 89-win wild-card team.

The Giants, an 88-win wild card, also beat the Cardinals in the 2012 NLCS on the way to their second World Series title in two years. The franchise has seven Series titles.

Ishikawa went from goat to hero in six innings. The left fielder misread Jon Jay's drive in the third inning, making a last-ditch jump as the ball sailed over his head for an RBI double that gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Joe Panik put the Giants in front with a two-run shot in the bottom of the third -- the team's first homer since Belt's 18th-inning blast in Game 2 of the NL Division Series in Washington on Oct. 4.

Adams jumped on a Bumgarner curveball leading off the fourth inning for a homer to right and Cruz belted a slider into the left-field seats with two outs to give the Cardinals a 3-2 edge.

Game Notes

Sandoval extended his Giants record of reaching base to 23 straight postseason games ... Wainwright is winless in his last six postseason starts, though the Cardinals did come out on top in his previous start when Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw blew up in Game 1 of the NL Division Series ... Bumgarner has a 1.72 ERA this postseason.