Philadelphia (CBS)—It was touted as a pitcher’s duel, a potential for a classic, a battle between two of baseball’s best. But when the Giants’ Tim Lincecum squared off against the Phillies’ Roy Halladay in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, it turned into a mini version of home-run derby, with four homers accounting for five of the combined seven runs scored.
In the end, it was Lincecum who survived, with a 4-3 victory Saturday night over the Phillies, to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS. The loss also snapped the Phillies’ streak of seven-straight Game One victories (a streak that tied a National League record with the Atlanta Braves).
Lincecum took out a boisterous Citizens Bank Park crowd completely out of the game. It wasn’t exactly a typical Lincecum outing, but it was enough to win.
“It wasn’t about the numbers, it was about giving us a chance to win,” Lincecum said. ”I let them eke back. It was intense. As for [beating Halladay], it’s tons of confidence and I think it’s all about setting the pace and going from there.”
Cody Ross was the improbable hitting hero. The Giants’ No. 8 hitter nailed two Halladay offerings and sent them deep into the cool October night over the right field fence.
Halladay went seven innings and struck out seven, but surrendered eight hits and four runs—two on solo shots to Ross—over 105 pitches. He didn’t look anything resembling the Roy Halladay that stymied the Cincinnati Reds on October 6th in becoming the second pitcher in Major League history to throw a postseason no-hitter. No, this version of Halladay on Saturday night was more like the Halladay that struggled against the Giants, on April 26, in his first loss as a Phillie.
Halladay had decent command of his pitches, throwing 21 first-pitch strikes to the 30 batters he faced. But he wasn’t getting the low strike called, and Giants hitters seemed much more patient against the rangy righty than the Reds certainly did.
“We have to win four, so you move on, that’s the bottom line,” Halladay said. “I made some bad pitches. The first pitch to Ross I don’t think was that bad, the second one got a little over the plate. At this point, you make a few mistakes, it can be costly.”
Ross and former Phillie Pat Burrell were a combined 4-for-6, with three runs batted in. Burrell’s double in the sixth off the left-field wall, which Raul Ibanez misplayed, put the Giants up 3-1. That led to Juan Uribe’s single up the middle that scored Nate Schierholtz, pinch-running for Burrell, with the eventual winning run.
“I thought [Burrell] hit it better than that, but the ball was a little lower than I thought,” Ibanez said.
Lincecum, meanwhile, struggled with yielding a few long balls himself. Carlos Ruiz’s solo homer in the third, in answer to Ross’s solo shot in the top of the third, drew the Phils to 1-1. Jayson Werth stung Lincecum with a two-run to right in the sixth and pulled Philadelphia to within 4-3.
Lincecum also went seven innings. But he left with a 4-3 lead, after striking out eight and giving up three runs on six hits. He sent the Phillies down in order in the seventh, but only recorded three clean innings. Lincecum frequently got behind batters, and he paid for it. Ruiz’s solo homer in the third came on a 2-0 count.
Lincecum gave way in the eighth to Javier Lopez, who got Chase Utley to ground out to second and Ryan Howard to strike out swinging. Werth seemed to stir some momentum with a two-out single in the eighth, but Giants’ closer Brian Wilson got Jimmy Rollins to strike out swinging for the final out of the eighth.
Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Howard were a combined 1-for-13. Howard struck out swinging three-straight times, after doubling in the second. Rollins popped out to second and he, too, struck three-straight times. He’s 1-for-15 in the postseason, with a run scored (for a .067 average).
Wilson earned the save, getting Ibanez (3-for-15 in the postseason) to strike out swinging for the first out. He survived some trouble when Wilson hit Ruiz with a pitch, but rebounded to strike out pinch-hitter Ross Gload and ending it by striking out Victorino (3-for-18 in the postseason).
The Phillies struck out a total of 13 times.
“I’m concerned with that,” Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think we need to hit better and score more runs. I’m very concerned with the way Jimmy Rollins is hitting. I felt like we came out the first few innings and we hit some balls hard. Lincecum hung in there and battled, and we couldn’t get a big two-out hit. Tonight I thought about a lot of things. We’re capable of doing it and it’s up to us doing it. They’re definitely trying and sometimes that’s the way it goes. We have to come out and be ready to play and see if we can do better than we did tonight.”
Reported by: Joseph Santoliquito
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