ST. LOUIS - Hunter Pence didn't plan his impassioned speech before Game 3 of the National League Division Series. It just poured fourth, he said, right into team lore as the Giants stormed back to win three in a row against the Cincinnati Reds and take that series.
The Giants face the same uphill climb in the N.L. Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, so naturally Pence was asked before today's Game 5 (5:07 p.m., Fox40, AM radio 680 and 1320) if he would assume the role of orator before easing into that of right fielder.
"I didn't do a re-do (of the pep talk) just yet," Pence said. "We've been talking. Who knows what's to come? I didn't ever prepare the pep talk in Cincinnati. It just kind of happened.
"Right now I think we all understand that it's definitely a different feeling today. Our backs are against the wall. We do have the confidence from what we've accomplished in Cincinnati ... and that definitely gives you hope, which is a very powerful thing."
The Giants will also have left-hander Barry Zito pitching, and the team has won each of his last 12 starts.
The team is returning to the same lineup from earlier in this series after some tweaking in Game 4. Pablo Sandoval returns to batting third with Buster Posey batting cleanup and catching Zito, who usually throws to Hector Sanchez. Pence returns to the fifth spot after being bumped down Thursday. Brandon Belt is playing first and batting sixth.
Before Sandoval's two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 4, the Giants had scored two runs in 17 innings in St. Louis. Their 3-4-5 punch of Sandoval, Posey and Pence is a combined 8-for-46 (.174) in the series with four runs batted in.
Zito faced the Cardinals once this season, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings and earning a 4-2 victory at Busch Stadium on Aug. 7. The Giants' winning streak behind Zito began with that game.
Zito's control, manager Bruce Bochy said, should be an early indication of how sharp he is.
"You kind of watch where the catcher is sitting, and if he's pretty close in that area, then he's going to be OK," Bochy said.
"We have an experienced pitcher that has had a good year and will compete," Bochy said. "He'll do all he can to give us a chance."
If the Giants win tonight, the teams will travel back to San Francisco, where the series will resume Sunday. The Giants, who are 1-3 this postseason at AT&T Park, would have Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain in line to start games 6 and 7.
"They've played extremely well," Pence said of the Cardinals. "They have not allowed much at all as far as just solid fundamental baseball, the whole way around.
"We've been fundamentally sound as well, they've just gotten some big hits. There's still life, though, and a lot of games. Kind of the motto right now is find a way to get back to San Francisco. That can change the tide. You have to face a tough one here, and get out of St. Louis and get home."
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