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FRANCISCO -- In the blink of an eye, the Cardinals' run at back-to-back World Series titles ended, but the team's longtime chairman said there's no reason for anyone dressed in red to hang his head.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't win the last game, but I feel good that we had a very nice season," said Bill DeWitt after his club was eliminated by the Giants, 9-0, in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park on Monday. "We got to the Final Four, and took it seven games, so there's nothing to be ashamed of."
The Cards simply ran out of miracles. A year ago, they were one strike away from elimination several times in Game 6 of the World Series against the Rangers, but they came back to win that game, and then the series in seven.
This year, they were trailing by two runs heading into the ninth inning of Game 5 in their NL Division Series against the Nationals, and they scored four times to ascend to the next round.
But in the NLCS, St. Louis ran into its match in San Francisco, a club that is now 6-0 in elimination games this postseason.
"We've had a great run," DeWitt said. "This team in October has played so well. We won that first Wild Card game, against the Braves, and then went into Washington and beat them. And we almost beat the Giants here, took them to seven. It shows you that if you get in and you play well, you have a shot to go all the way."
The Cardinals were on the precipice of doing just that, with a 3-1 lead in the series, before running into Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain. Against that trio, they scored just one run in the last 20 innings of the series and ultimately were outscored, 27-2, in the four losses.
That's the primary reason why they are going home and the Giants are opening the World Series against the Tigers on Wednesday at 8:07 p.m. ET on FOX.
"Obviously, you know this was a tough task to come in here. This is a hostile environment," said Lance Berkman about San Francisco's spacious home park. "When I say that, [I mean] it's not conducive to hitting. It has nothing to do with the fans. It's cold, and it's a huge ballpark. Those guys have a lot of confidence when they pitch here.
"We knew with a predominantly right-handed-hitting lineup against two pretty good right-handed pitchers in Cain and Vogelsong, it was going to be a tough battle. Give them credit. They have a very good ballclub, and they took advantage of every mistake we made. They deserve to win the National League this year."
That, of course, doesn't make the result any easier to take. Adam Wainwright, a tough right-hander in his own right, gave the Cards their best starting effort in 13 playoff games with seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball in his club's 8-3 Game 4 win on Thursday in St. Louis.
Wainwright missed last season's championship run -- when the Cardinals came from 8 1/2 games behind the Braves on Sept. 1 to win the Wild Card on the final day of the regular season -- after undergoing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
For Wainwright, this year's postseason ended much too quickly.
"I mean, I'm in a stage of denial right now," Wainwright said. "I really can't believe this is over. We had our chances. We just didn't play well the last three days, and they did. You've got to tip your cap to the Giants, because they took advantage of all the opportunities that they had. They pitched well and hit well."
Likewise, David Freese said that he concluded this postseason with a feeling of business left unfinished. Freese was the hero and MVP of last year's NLCS and World Series. Against Texas, he hit .348 with a homer and seven RBIs. This year, in the NLCS, Freese hit .192 with a homer and two RBIs, and both the homer and the RBIs came in his first at-bat of Game 1.
"It's frustrating, but we got beat," Freese said. "We didn't play our best ball. They're the NL West champs, and they got it done. We were up, 3-1. We couldn't capitalize on closing the door, and they're moving on. Somebody has to go home, and it's us."