ST. LOUIS, OCT. 14 -- As he lost one player after another to injuries, as he lost his first baseman, his best pitcher, his third baseman and a reliever for various parts of the season, Whitey Herzog always reacted the same way.

He would run a hand through his red crewcut, scratch his belly and say something like, "We'll figure something out." Now, Herzog and his St. Louis Cardinals can figure something out in the World Series because tonight they won the National League pennant with a 6-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

It's their third pennant in six years, the seventh time they've won a post-season Game 7, and they'll play the Minnesota Twins Saturday night in the Metrodome in Game 1 of the showdown for the 1987 world championship.

"Anytime you win a pennant, you've got to be proud," said Herzog, the lone calm voice in a mad clubhouse celebration. "Baseball is in three phases -- the division race, the playoffs and the World Series -- and this is the second one. We lost the World Series in 1985, and that was my first experience at that. That's quite a letdown. I know the Twins are hot, and they've got that stadium."

With 55,331 fans at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals played like the efficient machine they are, getting an eight-hitter from Danny Cox and a stunning three-run home run from utility man Jose Oquendo.

Cardinals pitchers finished the series with a record 23 consecutive shutout innings, having gotten a combined shutout from John Tudor and two relievers in Game 6. The Giants scored their last run in the fifth inning of Game 5 and batted .197 the rest of the way.

"After we won two in a row at home, we came in here and got no runs in two games," Giants Manager Roger Craig said. "I never expected that. Their pitching just stopped us.

"I'm very proud of my club. We've come a long way the last two years, to get to the seventh game of the playoffs. They have nothing to be ashamed of."

Oquendo's timing is nothing if not perfect. He entered the playoffs with two home runs in 903 career at-bats, and both of them had been against the Giants. So was his third, off a full-count hanging slider from starter Atlee Hammaker in the second inning.

That got the Cardinals going, and everything else they needed was provided by Cox and the game's best defense. A night earlier, the Cardinals had gotten a spectacular defensive play from center fielder Willie McGee to help win Game 6. In Game 7, they won more quietly, turning three double plays and allowing the Giants to get a runner as far as third only once.

So, in this era of parity, of teams from Kansas City to Boston getting to the World Series, the Cardinals remain the standard by which others are measured. Since Herzog came here to revive a franchise in 1980 and won his first championship in 1982, the Cardinals have been the closest thing in baseball to a dynasty.

Tonight, they destroyed the dream of the Giants, trying to be the first San Francisco team in 25 years to play in a World Series. Hammaker lasted two innings and dug his team a 4-0 hole. He was followed by six relievers, and the Cardinals collected 12 hits, 10 of them singles.

"He really only made one bad pitch," Craig said.

Everyone in the St. Louis starting lineup had at least one hit, except first baseman Jim Lindeman. Had the Cardinals lost, their season might have been a success anyway. They spent 137 consecutive days in first place despite disabling injuries to Jack Clark, Tony Pena, Tudor, Cox, Tom Herr, Lindeman, Joe Magrane and Ken Dayley.

"We could have folded lots of times with all the adversity we faced," Herzog said.

They especially looked ready to fold on Sept. 9 when Clark tore up his right ankle just when they were going to New York's Shea Stadium with a lead that had shrunk to 1 1/2 games. In all, the Cardinals placed 12 different players on the disabled list, but even after Clark went down they held on. All they did was win two of three from the Mets, who were back at full strength.

"We lost Jack and I didn't think we could hang on," Herzog said. "If we'd lost that last game to Mont-real (Oct. 1) with the Mets coming in here pitching two left-handers, I didn't think we'd win."

Terry Pendleton's one-out single in the second inning was the beginning of the end for the Giants. Pena followed with a hit-and-run single to right, and despite pulling a muscle in his left side rounding second, Pendleton made it to third.

McGee followed Pena's hit by grounding a single to left for a 1-0 lead. Hammaker then gambled by throwing Oquendo a full-count fastball, and Oquendo hammered it over the left field wall for a 4-0 margin.

With Cox on deck, the Cardinals were surprised that Oquendo wasn't intentionally walked. But Hammaker didn't intend to hang a slider, either.

"It sure is special," said Oquendo, the extraordinary utilityman who has played every position except catcher this season. "I never looked to hit it out. I'm no home run hitter. I thought he might throw me a breaking ball away or a fastball up and in. It surprised me that it was in the middle of the plate."

Craig agreed the home run was the turning point, saying, "In that situation, there was no chance to hit-and-run, and that set up the double plays. Ozzie {Smith at shortstop} played a great game."

The Cardinals made it 6-0 in the sixth. McGee led off with a double, but was out when he rounded second too far. Oquendo drew a walk, and Cox bunted him to second. Oquendo went to third on a wild pitch by reliever Scott Garrelts, and Coleman walked and stole second, his first of the series. Smith walked to load the bases. Craig Lefferts relieved Garrelts, and Herr singled to center for two runs.

Meanwhile, the Giants never came close against Cox, who finished with his first shutout of the year. It was his second complete game of the playoffs, this after tossing only two in the regular season.

He also worked the pennant-clinching game against the Montreal Expos and said, "I guess my turn happens to fall on the right day.

"Those were about the only two games I've pitched well in all year. I guess they happened at the right time. That four-run lead makes it easy. Well, not easy, but at least you know a two-run homer is not going to put you behind."

Left fielder Jeffrey Leonard got two of the Giants' eight hits. He finished with four homers and a .417 batting average and was given the series' most valuable player award.

"It's going to be a long, hard winter," he said. "Hopefully, time will heal what happened here. There's really not much else to say."

Asked how the Cardinals' pitching could be so dominant, Leonard said, "I would say we got away from our game plan and started swinging at their pitches."