CINCINNATI -- The last two World Series champions will face off in search of another title.

The St. Louis Cardinals overcame a 6-0 deficit in Washington on Friday night to stun the Nationals 9-7 and earn a trip to San Francisco for the National League Championship Series. The Giants watched the game on a tarmac in Cincinnati and now are guaranteed home-field advantage through the rest of the postseason.

"Wow ... going home with home-field advantage," right-hander George Kontos tweeted shortly before the plane took off. "I like it."

The teams split a two-game series at AT&T Park in May and split four games at Busch Stadium in August.

The Cardinals will take the field at AT&T Park in Sunday's Game 1 with several local ties. Manager Mike Matheny played for the Giants in 2005 and 2006.

The Giants swung a blockbuster deal for Carlos Beltran last season in an attempt to get back to the postseason, but Beltran couldn't turn the momentum in 44 games in orange and black. He signed with the Cardinals in the offseason.

With the Cardinals one out from elimination, Bay Area native Daniel Descalso hit a two-run, game-tying single.

"We know how to bounce back," Descalso, a St. Francis High-Mountain View and UC Davis alum, told TBS. "We've got grinders on this team."


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The Giants pride themselves on grinding as well, and they showed that trait this week while becoming the first team in MLB history to win three straight road games and overcome a two-game deficit in a best-of-five series.

The Cardinals have traveled an even wilder path.

They beat the Atlanta Braves in the first ever National League Wild Card Game and then nearly blew a 2-1 series lead in the NLDS.

Friday's six-run comeback by the Cardinals was the biggest in a winner-take-all game in MLB history.

These two franchises have been here before, too.

In fact, the "One Flap Down" can still stir the passions of anyone who witnessed the 1987 NLCS.

In that memorable seven-game showdown, Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard hit .417 with four home runs, and he did it with controversial style. Leonard would round the bases slowly, with one arm dangling at his side.

Giants fans loved the act, but not the Cardinals. Bob Forsch drilled Leonard with a fastball in Game 3, adding spice to an already dramatic series. The Cardinals triumphed in Game 7, fueled by Jose Oquendo's three-run home run off Atlee Hammaker.

(Leonard was the MVP of that NLCS, even in a losing cause.)

The Giants got the best of the rematch when they met the Cardinals in the NLCS again in 2002. The series that required only five games, and Kenny Lofton delivered a memorable winner by driving home David Bell with two outs in the bottom of the ninth of Game 5.

It was the Giants' first pennant-winning walk-off hit since Bobby Thomson's Shot Heard 'Round the World in 1951.

For more on the Giants, see Alex Pavlovic's Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/AlexPavlovic.

schedule

All games on Fox

Sunday: St. Louis at Giants, 5:15 p.m.
Monday: St. Louis at Giants, 5:07 p.m.
Wednesday: Giants at St. Louis, 1:07 p.m.
Thursday: Giants at St. Louis, 5:07 p.m.
Friday*: Giants at St. Louis, 5:07 p.m.
Oct. 21*: St. Louis at Giants, 1:45 p.m.
Oct. 22*: St. Louis at Giants, 5:07 p.m.

* If necessary

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