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ST. LOUIS — was running with a 3-2 count, and he had a good view between second and third base of bouncing ball four to . Duffy also could see that catcher didn't know where the ball had bounced.

Further, he sensed that the , down a run with two outs in the top of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, could get a second life if he just kept hustling home.

"It was right around the time I saw him look around for the ball," Duffy said. "That's when I said to myself, 'Well, if he takes another second to pick it up, probably take a chance and go.' And once I saw [coach Tim Flannery] waving me, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going."

Cruz did struggle for an extra second, and Duffy found an extra gear running home. Although Cruz found his compass and the ball — and made an athletic play on a throw to Rosenthal at the plate — Duffy slid in safely. Cruz, who had taken over for Yadier Molina in the seventh after he left the game with , had a lot on his plate.

"I didn't have time to think about anything but trying to find the ball," Cruz said. "It was just too late."

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And the Giants had life after one of the wackier plays in the postseason.Their extra breaths didn't last long, as Kolten Wong connected in the bottom of the ninth for the St. Louis Cardinals' fourth home run of the game, a solo shot against gave them a 5-4 victory to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

"It was a crazy game," Giants starter Jake Peavy said. "I think you saw the reason we're this far, and the reason we've been successful in the playoffs: How hard the guys play and never saying 'die.' "

Peavy was "a little off," with his results, manager Bruce Bochy said, and made it through four innings, allowing two earned runs. The Giants bullpen also allowed all four homers the Cardinals hit, just the second time that's happened in the Bochy era. Still, Duffy's dash gave them a chance until Wong went deep.

"Baseball's an amazing sport," Romo said. "You never know what you're going to see out there, and that ninth inning is a perfect example of it."

The Giants had a chance to gang up on the Cards and head home to AT T Park with two games in hand, but a split isn't too bad.

"It's definitely positive with a split," Romo said. "Does this hurt a little? Of course."

The Giants appeared to be going down with less pain, aggravation and chaos after Brandon Crawford struck out to lead off the ninth. But Rosenthal's command was off, and he also appeared to struggle with a wet pitcher's mound. The next two batters singled and Gregor Blanco hit a line drive to Jhonny Peralta, who made a leaping catch at short for the second out. He almost was able to turn a double play on Duffy.

"We didn't realize how tall Peralta was," Duffy said. "When the ball was hit, my first instinct was that it was going to be over his head. It kind of clicked that, 'I can't get doubled-up here."

Panik batted next, and was down in the count 0-2 until he worked a bouncing walk. He saw what was developing behind him, and sprinted to first in case Cruz made a wild throw home.

The Giants couldn't take advantage any more after Buster Posey drew a walk to load the bases; Pablo Sandoval was out on a sharp comebacker to the pitcher.

"We were just missing a hit to put the game away," Bochy said. "We had our chances, and the long ball got us tonight."

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Sports & RecreationBaseballSan Francisco GiantsMatt DuffyTrevor Rosenthal
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