Cubs' Lackey knows all about KOing Giants
SAN FRANCISCO — The last active pitcher to beat the San Francisco Giants in a postseason elimination game will seek to do it a second time Tuesday night when Chicago Cubs right-hander John Lackey takes the ball for Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
The Giants staved off elimination with a 6-5, 13-inning victory Monday night, the 10th consecutive time San Francisco recorded a postseason win when a loss would have meant the end of the season.
San Francisco won World Series titles in 2010, '12 and '14 but failed to capture the 2002 championship when Lackey, then a rookie, started for the Anaheim Angels on their way to a 4-1 win over the Giants in Game 7.
“Seems like a long time ago,” Lackey said before Monday's game. “That has nothing to do with (Tuesday), for sure. I've had several postseason starts, and one doesn't really affect the next one. Once you get in the game, it's another game, another challenge.”
Lackey, an 11-game winner for the Cubs this season, will be making his 21st career postseason start, the most among active pitchers.
He has faced the Giants more often in the playoffs (four times) than the regular season (three), with three of those postseason meetings coming in the 2002 World Series.
Lackey is 2-1 with a 3.62 ERA against the Giants in those seven head-to-heads. However, San Francisco roughed him up for four first-inning runs the last time it saw him in the postseason, when he was pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 3 of the 2014 NL Championship Series.
The Giants won that game 5-4 in 10 innings en route to a 4-1 series win over the Cardinals that propelled them to their third title in five years.
San Francisco will counter Tuesday with left-hander Matt Moore, who had been a candidate to start Game 2 in Chicago. Giants manager Bruce Bochy opted for Jeff Samardzija, pushing Moore back to Game 4.
That puts Moore in the same position staff ace Madison Bumgarner faced Monday night — win or go on vacation.
“This has got to be the biggest reason why we play the game, why we start training early in November and getting ready for this month, for these series, these moments,” Moore said before Monday's game. “So for me, I'm very excited to watch Bum pitch, and probably a little bit more excited to get going myself.”
Moore, acquired at the trade deadline from the Tampa Bay Rays, has never faced the Cubs. He does have postseason experience, having gone 1-1 in four games, including two starts, for the Rays.
He was one of the Giants' best pitchers down the stretch. San Francisco won six of his last eight starts, and Moore held the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers to a total of two runs over 15 2/3 innings in the final week of the regular season with the Giants needing every possible win to hold off St. Louis in the wild-card race.
Bochy admitted before Monday's game that the plan was to split the first two in Chicago, then have Moore for the clincher at home.
“You're hoping to at least get a split there … and now you're set up pretty good here,” he said. “It didn't happen, and now we have to find a way to win every game.”