The first time it happened he was in the dugout unable to do anything but watch as Jason Isringhausen retired three of his teammates to end the National League championship series. The next time he was at the plate with the bases loaded and the pennant there for the taking when he blinked as Adam Wainwright's curveball bent by him to end the NLCS.

This time he was taking a lead off first and dutifully rounding second base as the final out of the NLCS landed in San Francisco infielder Marco Scutaro's glove.

The view has varied each time.

The result hasn't.

Three times with three different teams Carlos Beltran has been to a winner-take-all Game 7 of the NLCS, and three times that's where his season ended, one step shy of the World Series, twice losing to Cardinals and now once as a Cardinal.

"There are a lot of players who don't make it to the World Series," Beltran said, standing in front of his locker late Monday night at San Francisco's AT&T Park after the Cardinals' 9-0 loss. "Don't feel sorry for me. I was trying the best I could to get there and it just didn't happen."

Few players have given as much to the postseason and received so little in return as Beltran, the Cardinals' right fielder. During this October's run, Beltran played in 12 games and hit .357 with a .714 slugging percentage. He hit three homers, two in one game, to momentarily bring his total to 14 in his first 29 playoff games. His .782 career slugging percentage in the postseason and 1.252 career on-base-plus-slugging (OPS) in the playoffs are the best in baseball history, topping both Babe Ruth (.744 and 1.211) and Lou Gehrig (.731 and 1.208). But the two Hall of Famers have what Beltran does not to adorn their highly decorated careers — rings. Ruth and Gehrig have a combined 17 World Series appearances and, playing mostly for the vaunted New York Yankees, 13 titles. Beltran is 0-for-three getting there.