Cardinals' Molina leaves with injury

David J. Phillip/APThe Cardinals' Yadier Molina pauses get outside the batter's box after injuring himself while swinging in the seventh inning.

ST. LOUIS — Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina left Game 2 of the NL Championship Series with a strained muscle on his left side Sunday night.

Molina was replaced by Tony Cruz in the top of the seventh inning with the score tied 2-all. Cruz's passed ball helped the Giants go ahead, but St. Louis tied it in the bottom of the seventh.

Molina hardly budged from the batter's box when he grounded into a double play against San Francisco reliever Jeremy Affeldt in the sixth. The six-time All-Star remained hunched over until a trainer and manager Mike Matheny came out to meet him. Molina walked off on his own, but was clearly in pain.

Molina, who missed seven weeks this season with a thumb injury, has won six straight Gold Gloves and finished third in NL MVP voting last year. His loss was a huge blow to the Cardinals, who trailed 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

In the second inning, Molina got his 89th career postseason hit, passing Albert Pujols for the team record.

Molina was 1 for 2 with a sacrifice bunt before leaving.

The 32-year-old Molina is one of the best catchers in baseball — he has thrown out 45 percent of would-be base stealers over his career. He is also a middle-of-the-order threat for a team already struggling to score runs. He hit .282 with seven homers despite missing 52 games this season.

Molina tore a ligament in his right thumb on July 9 while sliding into third base and missed seven weeks. St. Louis went 21-19 during his absence.

The Cardinals signed A.J. Pierzynski, who shared catching duties with Cruz until Molina got back. Pierzynski was left off the roster for the NL Division Series, but was added for the NLCS.

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