Backs to wall, Cards focused on getting back to St. Louis

Having never won a series after trailing 3-1, club taking it one game at a time

Backs to wall, Cards focused on getting back to St. Louis

SAN FRANCISCO -- Two years ago in the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals had a 3-1 lead over the Giants after four games, only to squander it away with losses in the final three games of the series.

The Giants went on to win the World Series.

Reminded of this Wednesday, after his team reached the brink of elimination following a 6-4 loss to the Giants in Game 4 of the NLCS at AT&T Park, Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong offered a simplistic yet daunting solution to this predicament.

"I guess it would be nice to repay the favor," Wong said, still managing a smile.

  Date Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 SF 3, STL 0 video
Gm 2 Oct. 12 STL 5, SF 4 video
Gm 3 Oct. 14 SF 5, STL 4 video
Gm 4 Oct. 15 SF 6, STL 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 16 SF 6, STL 3 video

To do so, that would mean winning three consecutive games in order to advance to the World Series. That tough climb begins with Game 5 at 7:07 p.m. CT on Thursday at AT&T Park.

The Cardinals are 0-4 in series in which they trailed three games to one, including the 1943 World Series against the Yankees (lost 4-1), the 2000 NLCS against the Mets (lost 4-1), the 2002 NLCS against the Giants (lost 4-1) and the 2005 NLCS to the Astros (lost 4-2).

Hey, the Red Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees in the 2004 American League Championship Series, and we all know how that ended. Big comebacks can happen, but it isn't something these Cardinals have had much experience with.

There have been a few cases, though.

Most recently, the Cardinals were down 2-1 to the Pirates in the NL Division Series a year ago before winning the last two games to advance. In 2011, they were down 2-1 to the Phillies in the NLDS and won the last two to advance. That same year, they were down 3-2 to the Rangers in the World Series before winning the last two games.

While it's doable, it's also going to be difficult, especially with Giants ace left-hander Madison Bumgarner on the mound in Game 5 on regular rest.

"We'll be ready to play tomorrow," said Cardinals pitcher Shelby Miller, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday. "We're pretty confident in ourselves."

The Cardinals, who have six home runs in this series, haven't done much else well. They're hitting .242 as a team, have struck out 27 times, have a .301 on-base percentage and a 4.11 ERA, with two errors in the series. A bad throw and a bad decision on consecutive plays in the sixth inning of Game 4 by first baseman Matt Adams led to two runs.

Giants scratch out three in 6th

Video: Giants score three in the sixth

"We still have a feeling we can turn things around in this series," Adams said.

There hasn't been a real crisp game in the bunch. But if the Cardinals can somehow beat Bumgarner, then the series shifts back to St. Louis for Game 6 on Saturday and potentially a Game 7 on Sunday.

But first things first, said Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter.

"We've got to get this series back to St. Louis," Carpenter said.

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.