Carlos Beltran

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Matt Carpenter always tries to stay ready, keeping an assortment of gloves nearby. That's his job.

The St. Louis Cardinals' utilityman took on a new role in Game 3 of the NL championship series: game-changer.

Carpenter hit a two-run homer after subbing for Carlos Beltran and the Cardinals chased Matt Cain before a 3 1/2-hour rain delay in the seventh inning of a 3-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Carlos Beltran and David Freese each hit two-run homers and the St. Louis Cardinals held on to beat the San Francisco Giants 6-4 Sunday night in Game 1 of the NL championship series.

The wild-card Cardinals took an early 6-0 lead and made it stand up. Two days earlier, St. Louis overcame a 6-0 deficit to beat Washington in the deciding Game 5 of the division series.

Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is tonight. Chris Carpenter pitches for the Cardinals against Ryan Vogelsong.