SAN FRANCISCO - For three days, the St. Louis Cardinals watched the San Francisco Giants celebrate their sensational 2012 season.
They can only hope to respond as well as they did under similar circumstances two years ago.
Matt Adams had the loudest blow in a nine-run fourth inning -- a bases-loaded, ground-rule double -- and Matt Carpenter delivered two of St. Louis' seven hits off Matt Cain in the shockingly sudden uprising as the Cardinals beat the Giants for the second day in a row Sunday, 14-3 at AT&T Park.
In winning the series 2-1 against the club that ended their season in the National League Championship Series last October, the Cardinals spoiled for Giants fans a day that began with the distribution of 2012 championship rings in a joyous, on-field ceremony.
"Last year, my team was fortunate to have some pretty special celebrations, too," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of the spillover from his club's 2011 championship. "We realize (all the ceremonies) are a part of it. We'd like to get back there."
The Giants and Cardinals have alternated championships the past three seasons, with San Francisco winning two. St. Louis was one win from representing the NL in the World Series last season as the defending champ.
The Cardinals also opened the 2011 season in San Francisco and witnessed similar ceremonies following the Giants' 2010 championship. Six months later, they were enjoying a parade of their own.
The visitors did almost all the in-game celebrating Sunday, most of which occurred in the nine-run outburst the likes of which Cain never experienced last season en route to earning the starting nod in the All-Star Game.
"I just kind of fell apart," Cain assessed of the dramatic turnaround after having retired the Cardinals in order through three innings. "I just didn't feel like I threw the ball well that fourth inning for some reason and they took advantage of it."
Cain (0-1) was tagged with nine earned runs allowed. He surrendered a total of just nine earned runs in five September starts last season in leading the Giants to the NL West title and into the playoffs, and then he started the clinching game of all three postseason series.
Making the Cardinals' explosion even more startling was the fact that Cain had pitched six shutout innings in the Giants' opener last Monday in Los Angeles, matching Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in a scoreless duel that L.A. eventually won 4-0 against the San Francisco bullpen.
If there's one thing Cain hasn't done well in recent years, it's get Carpenter out. The Cardinals second baseman entered the game a perfect 4-for-4 in his young career against Cain, then added the two fourth-inning singles after striking out in his first at-bat of the day.
"It's crazy the way it's worked out," Carpenter said of his run of success against Cain. "I don't have any secret. Every at-bat is a battle."
The Cardinals knocked around five Giants pitchers for 15 hits, three of which came off the bat of Adams, who was making his first start. Carpenter also had three hits and a team-high three RBIs.
Adam Wainwright, the losing pitcher on Opening Day at Arizona, evened his record at 1-1 by allowing two runs over seven innings. He struck out six and didn't walk a batter.
Angel Pagan had a triple and a double to account for two of the Giants' seven hits off the Cardinals right-hander. The double plated San Francisco's first run in the third inning, after which Pagan scored on a Pablo Sandoval RBI single for a brief 2-0 lead.
After having been no-hit through three innings and trailing for the first time, the Cardinals rebounded quickly with seven hits off Cain in an explosion he never extinguished.
Jon Jay got the Cardinals' big fourth inning rolling with a sliced single to left-center, taking second when Pagan misplayed the ball's first bounce for an error.
Carpenter smacked Cain's next pitch into right field for a hit, advancing Jay to third, from where he got the scoring started innocently enough on an Allen Craig flyball to right field.
Carlos Beltran drew a one-out walk to move the potential tying run into scoring position, and Yadier Molina loaded the bases with a ground single to left.
Adams, making his first regular-season start after a brilliant spring, then teed off on a Cain fastball, one-hopping the 421-foot sign at the ballpark's deepest point in right-center field for a ground-rule double and a 3-2 Cardinals lead.
"We're going to have to find ways to get him more chances," Matheny said of Adams, who played first base but actually replaced regular left fielder Matt Holliday in the lineup. "He knows what to do with the bat in his hands."
Ty Wigginton made it a two-run lead when he followed by looping an RBI single to left field, and it became 5-2 one batter later when Pete Kozma, after fouling off a squeeze-bunt attempt, blooped a single to right, scoring Adams.
A two-out walk to Jay, batting for the second time in the inning, loaded the bases again and positioned Cain squarely on the ropes, after which Carpenter landed the knockout punch with a full-count, two-run single in front of Hunter Pence in right field for the Cardinals' sixth and seventh runs of the inning.
Cain barked at home-plate umpire Doug Eddings shortly before being lifted, upset neither his 1-2 or 2-2 pitches had been deemed on the corner.
"Obviously I didn't think they were strikes," countered Carpenter. "If I swing at them, I'm out. If he gets the calls, I'm out. Fortunately, he didn't get the calls.
"Then he made a good pitch and I fought it off and got a hit. I don't know what to say about it."
Cain was replaced by left-hander Jose Mijares, but the Cardinals weren't done scoring. Craig was hit on the foot by Mijares' first pitch to load the bases for the third time in the inning, and again the visitors cashed in when Beltran drove a two-run single to right to complete the nine-run flurry.
"We've got to get back to playing good baseball," Giants manager Bruce Bochy observed afterward. "They rained on our parade a little bit. The last couple of days, that's gotten away from us.
"I think the guys will enjoy sleeping in (Monday), having a night game."
NOTES: The Giants awarded 2012 championship rings to all six of the franchise's living Hall of Famers: Monte Irvin, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda and Gaylord Perry. All but Irvin were present for the ceremony. ... The Giants started the same eight position players, batting in the same order, all three games of the series. The Cardinals, meanwhile, sat Holliday and Daniel Descalso on Sunday for the first time this season, opting for Adams and Wigginton. ... Having opened on the road against the last two National League West champions, the Cardinals jump right back into the frying pan when they host the defending NL Central champs, the Cincinnati Reds, in Monday's home opener. Jaime Garcia, who owns twice as many wins against the Reds than any other team, gets the call for St. Louis. ... The Giants will play their first home night game of the season when they open a three-game series against Colorado on Monday. The Giants are three games into a stretch in which they'll play eight of 10 during the day, including all four in a road set in Chicago upon completion of the Rockies series. ... The Giants went 14-4 against the Rockies last season.
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