SAN FRANCISO — The St. Louis Cardinals' unheralded bullpen is making quite a name for itself in October right along with proven postseason stars Carlos Beltran and David Freese.
A group that takes pride in being ready for anything had six relievers combine to deliver 5 1-3 scoreless innings of relief to lead the reigning World Series champions to a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the NL championship series Sunday night.
"We feel like we're an asset. We don't get talked about much, and I guess that's a good thing," said right-hander Mitchell Boggs, who pitched the eighth. "We don't have big name guys. Tonight was a good night for us."
Beltran and Freese did their part with two-run homers as the Cardinals built an early 6-0 cushion and held on. Only two nights earlier, the Cardinals came back from the same deficit, using a four-run rally in the ninth inning at Washington in the deciding Game 5 of the division series.
"I'm thinking about the D.C. game," Freese said. "They were up 6-0. We were up 6-0. And that shows that you've got to keep playing. ... We were fortunate enough that our bullpen came in and closed the door the rest of the way."
Starter Lance Lynn was done after 3 2-3 innings. Edward Mujica, the fifth St. Louis pitcher, struck out the side in order in the seventh for the win, then Jason Motte finished for his second save of the postseason.
The Cardinals gave first-year manager Mike Matheny a win against his former club.
Matheny's crew hardly looked road weary after a cross-country trip. The Giants dropped to 0-3 at home so far during these playoffs, outscored 20-6 at AT&T Park.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Monday night. Chris Carpenter pitches for the Cardinals against Ryan Vogelsong.