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Brandon Crawford checks on teammate Marco Scutaro of the San Francisco Giants after the second baseman was shook up by a sliding Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals, trying to break up a double play in the first inning of Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, in San Francisco. (Nhat V. Meyer/Staff)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Scutaro looked as if he were almost broken in half, like a small wood dock smashed by a speeding steamboat.

The Giants second baseman wasn't just run over by the Cardinals' Matt Holliday in the first inning of Game 2 Monday, he was practically vaporized.

Scutaro -- outweighed by 50 pounds -- crashed to the ground, stayed on the ground, and so many things could've happened from there.

He's an essential player for the Giants, and a quiet leader. Losing him in such a violent way could've been crippling.

But instead of all bad things, something else happened: Scutaro got up, stayed in the game, and then of course delivered the hit that broke open this game.

The Giants evened this NLCS with a 7-1 victory at AT&T Park fueled by a sterling performance from pitcher Ryan Vogelsong and other contributions.

But it was Scutaro -- the Giants' great midseason pickup -- in the middle of it all, physically, emotionally and literally.

"In my opinion, it pumped us up a little bit, you know?" Giants outfielder Hunter Pence said of Holliday's hard breakup of a double play try.

"But those kinds of things -- you know Holliday, I don't think he's trying to hurt someone. He's playing the game hard, and those things happen."

Scutaro was limping around with a hurt left hip, so were the Giants pumped up with rage? No, Pence said.


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"Pumped up like we're going to play the game hard," Pence said. "It just kind of pumps you up when you see one of your guys go down."

The Giants players said they felt terrible for Scutaro and knew he was in pain, but they said they didn't believe Holliday made a dirty play.

If anything, Holliday probably came in too late ... and crashed into Scutaro's legs with too much force.

But Scutaro was right on the base when Holliday came through, so there was a gray area.

"I really think they got away with an illegal slide there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

The umpires ruled it a fair play.

"The only regret I have is that I should have started my slide maybe a step earlier," Holliday said. "I ended up on top of him."

No, the Giants weren't furious at Holliday and made no retaliatory gestures the rest of the game.

"There's no bad feeling or anything -- just one of those plays where baseball happened," reliever Sergio Romo said of Holliday.

"He plays hard, he was trying to win for his team, so you can't fault him for that."

But the Giants were definitely inspired by watching Scutaro stay in the game -- until he was replaced in the sixth inning -- and produce despite the bulldozing.




He looked as if he were broken, then he broke the game open.

"You want to fight hard for your teammates," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "And when he got up and he kept on playing, and got a big hit for us a little later on, that was huge for us."

The hit came in the fourth, with the bases loaded, with St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter fighting to hold the Giants' lead to 2-1.

But Scutaro, looking less than sprightly on his way to the plate, ripped a shot to left-center field that scored two runs -- and a third scored when Holliday booted the ball for karmic balance.

So it was suddenly 5-1 Giants.

"Well, shows you how tough he is," Bochy said. "We're hoping he comes out of this OK. He got hit pretty good. And that's a big guy running."

Maybe the most amazing thing, suggested Belt, was that even with Holliday bearing in, Scutaro got off such a strong throw to try to complete the double play.

Belt scooped the throw, but Allen Craig was safe by a half-step.

"I think he did a great job of just staying with it and trying to get the out," Belt said. "That's a lot of determination."

The Giants said initial X-rays taken during the game on Scutaro's hip were negative, but Scutaro will get more tests Tuesday, on the travel day to St. Louis for Games 3, 4 and 5.

This victory pretty much ensures it will be a long series -- no surprise, given the mental toughness of these two teams -- and the Giants very much would like to have Scutaro healthy for all of it.

His teammates say they think he'll be playing when the series resumes Wednesday.

"When we took him out of the game," Romo said, "he had a smile on his face that'd he be back."

Scutaro also probably had a welt the size of a Cardinals left fielder on his hip, but at this point, that's almost like a trophy.

He got run over by a steamboat, and he still won.

Read Tim Kawakami's Talking Points blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami. Contact him at tkawakami@mercurynews.com.