Erik Matuszewski
Bloomberg News

DETROIT: The San Francisco Giants beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in 10 innings to complete a four-game World Series sweep and capture their second Major League Baseball championship in three years.

Marco Scutaro had a two-out, run-scoring single in the 10th inning for the Giants, who became the third National League team in 68 years with two World Series titles in a three-year span after the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds and the 1963, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers.

It’s the 21st World Series sweep since 1903 and the first by an NL team since the 1990 Reds.

The Giants, whose 103 regular-season home runs were the fewest among MLB’s 30 teams, won the World Series behind a pitching staff that allowed seven runs in a seven-game, season-ending winning streak. San Francisco outscored Detroit 16-6 in the World Series, including the championship round’s first back-to-back shutouts in 46 years in Games 2 and 3.

Scutaro, the Giants’ second baseman, snapped a 3-3 tie with his single to center field off Tigers reliever Phil Coke. His hit scored Ryan Theriot, who led off the 10th inning with a single and moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt.

Giants relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo pitched three scoreless innings in relief of starting pitcher Matt Cain, who allowed three runs over seven innings. Romo got the final three outs in the bottom of the 10th for his third save of the World Series, striking out Miguel Cabrera to end the game and send the Giants rushing onto the field in celebration.

Former underdogs

The Giants had entered the World Series as underdogs after their first two playoff series went the distance. Odds at Las Vegas sportsbooks following the two league-championship series indicated the Giants had a 38 percent chance of winning the World Series.

San Francisco bucked those odds and had a streak in which it didn’t trail for 56 postseason innings. The Giants fell short of the 2004 Boston Red Sox’s record of 60 innings as Cabrera hit a two-run home run in the third inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

The Giants ranked eighth among MLB’s 30 clubs with a season-opening player payroll of $118 million, while the Tigers were fifth at $132 million. The team with the higher payroll had won the previous six World Series titles.

While starter Cain is regarded as the Giants’ ace — having pitched a perfect game on June 13 of this season — two reclamation projects helped fuel the team’s postseason success.

Barry Zito, a former Cy Young Award winner who was left off the Giants’ World Series roster in 2010, went 2-0 with a 1.69 earned run average this postseason. And 35-year-old Ryan Vogelsong, who two years ago was pitching in the minor leagues and the Venezuelan winter league, had a 3-0 record in four starts with a 1.09 ERA. Vogelsong’s postseason ERA is the lowest by a starting pitcher with at least 24 innings since Orel Hershiser had a 1.05 ERA in 1988 for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Two missing

The Giants won the title despite the absence of two of their top players and a two-time Cy Young Award winner relegated to pitching in relief.

Relief pitcher Brian “The Beard” Wilson, who had 84 saves over the previous two seasons, appeared in only two games this year before having elbow surgery in April. Outfielder Melky Cabrera was leading the NL with a .346 batting average when he was suspended 50 games by MLB on Aug. 15 for using the banned muscle builder testosterone.

Tim Lincecum, who won NL Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, lost his only postseason start after going 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA during the regular season. He turned things around as a reliever in the playoffs, going 1-0 with a 0.69 ERA over 13 innings in five games.

Postseason resilience

The Giants showed a similar resiliency in the postseason after winning the NL West division title with a 94-68 record.

After falling behind two-games-to-none against Cincinnati in the division series, the Giants rallied to win the final three games.

San Francisco was in a 3-1 hole in the National League Championship Series against the defending-champion Cardinals and again won three in a row to reach the World Series.

The Giants entered the championship round with momentum while the Tigers came in rested, having had five days off after completing a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees in the American League Division series.

It was the fourth World Series meeting between a team pushed to a decisive seventh game and a club coming off a sweep. And for the fourth time, the team that played a seven-game LCS went on to win the World Series.