SAN FRANCISCO -- The Ryan Express showed up for the Giants in Game 6, and bam-bam-bam blew away the St. Louis Cardinals.

Yes that was journeyman Ryan Vogelsong taking the ball Sunday and taking it upon himself to make a flame-throwing statement in yet another elimination game.

And, yes, that was the Giants' oldest and most intense starter taking them to Monday's pennant-deciding game in a blaze of fastball ferocity.

Vogelsong's 13 consecutive fastballs -- all near 93 mph or better -- to open the proceedings set the tone and demolished the Cardinals' early hopes on the way to the Giants' 6-1 victory at AT&T Park.

"I just kind of saw the way our team reacted the other night when Barry (Zito in Game 5) came out and kind of took the bull by the horns early and was throwing up zeros," Vogelsong said.

"And I just knew I had to go out there and keep them off the board early and give us a chance to do something offensively."

He did that with extreme prejudice -- Vogelsong struck out five of the first seven Cardinals he faced and didn't surrender a hit until the fifth inning.

The Giants scored a run in the first, then broke it open with four runs in the second. With the way Vogelsong was dominating, this game was all but over.

And in the dugout, Tim Lincecum, known for some of his own strikeout sprees, got a pretty good idea that he wouldn't be needed out of the bullpen on this night.

"That was pretty apparent after Vogey struck out five of the first six outs," Lincecum said.

In the first inning, Vogelsong struck out Jon Jay, walked Matt Carpenter and then struck out Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig.

By the time the opening inning was over, Vogelsong had thrown 18 pitches, 16 of them fastballs. St. Louis didn't come close to getting a ball in play, and that would be a theme of the night.

"I think he felt that he's got the fastball going," center fielder Angel Pagan said of Vogelsong. "It's awesome, fun to watch."

After his Game 2 victory and Zito's brilliance in Game 5, Vogelsong went seven innings Sunday, giving up one run and striking out a career-high nine batters.

It was a dominant, Nolan Ryan-style performance, even though Vogelsong said he actually had better stuff in Game 2 -- he just got luckier with some pitches this time, he said.

But there was something extra in this one, especially the smoke in the early innings.

"There was no plan going in -- I threw what Buster (Posey) was putting down," Vogelsong said. "I assume he saw something that he kept putting the fastball down."

Posey, however, said the two knew they were going to go with the fastball early and often. When Vogelsong hit his spots with it, then coupled it with biting breaking balls, this game had his signature and nobody else's.





"It was electric, no doubt about it," Posey said.

Vogelsong's fastball was down to his normal 89-90 mph range by the fourth or fifth inning, but those first 40 or so pitches were something special.

So where did all that extra velocity come from, Ryan?

"I feed off the fans in this stadium," Vogelsong said. "And they were into it early and the adrenaline is going and it puts miles per hour on your fastball."

Vogelsong even drove in a run with a slap grounder that was kicked by St. Louis shortstop Pete Kozma with Brandon Belt on third, then scored from first on Marco Scutaro's two-out double.

Was it good to have a comfortable lead so early in the game?

"Well, I was looking for the oxygen first," Vogelsong said.

And now Vogelsong has two-thirds of the Giants' victories in this series -- the guy who went to Japan when his career faltered and only made it back to the majors last year, when he was 33.

After all that, he's at his best -- and throwing his hardest -- in the largest games of his or most anybody's career.

Yes, the Giants just hope that Matt Cain can do in Game 7 what Vogelsong just did.

"I just believe that God had a plan for me this whole time," Vogelsong said.

"I feel like all the stuff that I went through -- going to Japan and going to winter ball at 33 years old, and getting back here last year, is stuff that he was doing for me to get me prepared for this moment."

Or, as Lincecum put it, Vogelsong pitches powerfully in the biggest games because he has been pitching for his life for years and years now.

"Feel like Vogey approaches every game so similarly that when we're in these tough situations it isn't that hard for him," Lincecum said.

"He's been fighting uphill anyway, you know what I mean? This isn't unfamiliar to him."

The moment was new. The stuff was incredible. If this is the real Ryan Vogelsong, it's spectacular and, thanks to this game, it might go on into the World Series.

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