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Beltran back in SF for postseason, now hoping Cardinals can beat the Giants

Carlos Beltran so desperately wanted to help the Giants return to the playoffs last fall during his short time with San Francisco.

The Giants missed out a year after winning the 2010 World Series.

Now, Beltran is in the other dugout with the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals, facing the Giants in the NL championship series.

Booed during pregame introductions and when he came to the plate, Beltran hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to put St. Louis ahead 6-0 and chase San Francisco starter Madison Bumgarner.

"It was great," Beltran said of playing in San Francisco. "Being able to play for the Giants was a good thing for me. I was looking forward to trying to be in this position. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. But at the same time, just being able to play for these fans, they're very loud, they're good fans. They're really supportive. I got the opportunity to meet a lot of new faces, new teammates, and it was a good time."

Beltran, acquired by the Giants in a trade with the New York Mets in late July last year, batted .323 with seven home runs and 18 RBIs in 44 games while also missing time with injuries.

While the Cardinals had their own remarkable rally from six runs down in Washington on Friday night — Beltran's double started a four-run comeback in the ninth inning of Game 5 — he was proud to see his old team come back from a 2-0 deficit in the NL division series to win three straight against the Reds in Cincinnati.

"That shows right there what type of team they are," Beltran said. "They're a good team, they play together, they've got a good pitching staff, and they've also got a good manager in (Bruce) Bochy."

The All-Star outfielder signed a $26 million, two-year deal with the Cardinals last winter.

The Giants still appreciate Beltran's contributions to their club, too — albeit such a short stint.

"He did a great job," Bochy said before Sunday's Game 1. "Great teammate. We enjoyed him here and he did all he could to help us. We just as a group stopped hitting, but he didn't."

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NIX IN: When Jayson Nix signed a minor league contract with the New York Yankees in the offseason, starting at shortstop in place of Derek Jeter in the postseason was hardly in his mind.

Still, throughout the year he was always prepared for the moment he might have to replace big stars.

"These are the things I have to consider," Nix said before Game 2 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Sunday. "A certain guy goes down, I'm up. If Robbie (Cano) goes down or Derek goes down or Alex (Rodriguez) goes down, I've got to play."

And play he will, for as long as the Yankees remain in this postseason.

He said Jeter, who broke his left ankle in Game 1 and is now out for the postseason, texted him Sunday morning to wish him well.

"He just said good luck. He said he believes in me, and go get 'em," Nix said.

A part-time big leaguer of four seasons with Colorado, Cleveland, Toronto and the Chicago White Sox, Nix has excelled in his limited role in New York.

The 30-year-old Nix hit .323 over 18 games in spring training but was sidelined for two weeks with a bruised left calf and started the season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

But he was called up in May on the same day Mariano Rivera injured his knee shagging flyballs during batting practice and has stuck with the team.

"To be able to come here and fill a role for this team and be around this group of guys has been very special," Nix said.

A first-round draft pick of the Rockies in 2001, Nix got plenty of playing time when A-Rod broke his hand in late July.

He batted .243 with four homers and 18 RBIs in 177 at-bats this season. And he already started at shortstop once this postseason, in Game 4 of the division series after Jeter fouled a ball off his foot and limped off the field a night earlier.

Nix went 2 for 3 with a double in the first playoff start of his career, and manager Joe Girardi has confidence he can do it again.

"I like Nixey's at-bats, and he is a grinder," Girardi said. "He is one of the guys that got us here, and that's why I am doing it."

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NO NERVES: There was one thing that had San Francisco pitcher Ryan Vogelsong just a bit nervous before he made his postseason debut last week in the NL division series: a lack of nerves.

Vogelsong expected a few jitters before his Game 3 start at Cincinnati and was surprised when they weren't there.

"That worried me a little bit because in the past when I've been in some not quite as big games as that, but throughout the regular season and a little bit last year and some stuff in the past with me in Japan, the nerves are usually good," he said. "I didn't have any, really."

"I was a little worried about that. I don't know if that was so much more of the conscious effort to try and calm myself down, to not go into the first inning too amped up and be out of control. But it didn't take long at all," he said.

Vogelsong responded well after a few first-inning difficulties, allowing one run and three hits in five innings in the Giants' 2-1 win over the Reds that started San Francisco's comeback of three straight wins.

With that start under his belt and the chance to pitch at home in Game 2 of the NL championship series against the Cardinals where his ERA was a full run lower in the regular season, Vogelsong is excited for his second postseason appearance.

"It's no secret, I've said in the past, that I definitely feed off the energy that this crowd brings," he said. "I'm sure it's going to be pretty intense tomorrow night. It's pretty intense on a regular-season game here in the middle of June. So tomorrow night should be extra energetic."