The National League championship series isn't going to be quick, or easy, or pretty.

The Cardinals probably didn't need the reminder, but Game 2 against the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park left little room for interpretation.

The Cardinals finished with one run, five hits, two errors and plenty left to contemplate.

Playing behind starting pitcher and enforcer Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals fell victim to a flurry of pitching and defensive mistakes in a 7-1 loss that leveled the series at a game each and perhaps placed it on slow simmer as well.

Imprecise command and a rash of odd fourth-inning plays prevented Carpenter from resembling his postseason reputation.

Instead of dominance, Carpenter offered four innings in which he threw more balls than strikes, allowed a home run to the first hitter he faced, was charged with an error and seemed displeased with the night in general.

"They Giants played well. For whatever reason, tonight wasn't our night," Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran said.