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Tuesday's Game 3 was a pitcher's duel from the get-go. Both Cain and opponent Cole Hamels - the third of Philadelphia's three aces - were perfect through two innings, and the first 13 batters of the game were retired before Carlos Ruiz smacked Cain for a third-inning single.
And it was Cain - not Hamels - who had to get out of trouble first. The Phillies would put two men on base in that third inning before Cain got out of it. And they would again put another two men on in the fourth before Cain pitched out of that jam as well.
The game remained scoreless into the bottom of the fourth, when the Giants broke through against Hamels. Edgar Renteria drilled a leadoff single for the Giants' first baserunner. Three batters later, Pat Burrell drew a walk, bringing Cody Ross to the plate with two on and two out. Ross - who's had a terrific run in the playoffs - brought the crowd to its feet, and he delivered once again by pulling a low Hamels fastball into left field for an RBI single.
That hit made it 1-0 Giants. They went up 2-0 moments later when Aubrey Huff followed Ross by pulling a groundball between first and second base. Chase Utley dove in an effort to knock it down, but the ball tipped off his glove, and Burrell came around to score.
Up by two, the Giants got a scoreless fifth from Cain before striking for an insurance run. Aaron Rowand ripped a leadoff double off Hamels in the fifth and scored when a Freddy Sanchez grounder to second took a funny bounce in front of Utley and hit off his body before rolling into the outfield. The play was initially charged as an error, and was later changed to a hit.
Cain handled his three-run lead with grace, tossing a perfect sixth. And despite an elevated pitch count, he got the job done in the seventh as well, working out of his final jam of the day. After a two-out hit batsman and walk brought Bruce Bochy out of the dugout for a chat, Cain convinced his manager to let him stay in the game, and he was able to close out the inning by getting a grounder off the bat of Shane Victorino.
Cain's day would end there, with seven shutout innings and 119 pitches. He handed the ball off to Javier Lopez, who worked a perfect eighth, and closer Brian Wilson, who worked a shutout ninth. A 4-6-3 double play grounded into by Raul Ibanez officially handed Game 3 to the Giants.
Cain was the winner, and Hamels was the hard-luck loser, allowing three runs in six innings while striking out eight. You can only do so much when your lineup doesn't produce, and this was the first time the Phillies have been blanked in a playoff game since 1983.
Game 4 of the NLCS is scheduled to take place Wednesday night, and will put Madison Bumgarner up against Joe Blanton. There's been a lot of talk that Charlie Manuel might skip Blanton in favor of starting Roy Halladay on short rest, but for now, Blanton appears locked in.
Brian Wilson has a reputation of always making things more interesting than they have to be, but a three-run lead? A three-run lead's pretty cozy.
Wilson was called on to protect a 3-0 game in the ninth inning, and he got the job done with little trouble. He started things off by racking up a swinging strikeout of Jayson Werth. Jimmy Rollins followed by lining a long single off the wall in right, but Raul Ibanez followed with a grounder to second that made for a textbook 4-6-3 double play.
With the win, the Giants go up two games to one in the series, with Game 4 scheduled for Wednesday evening. Expect Charlie Manuel to keep on getting more and more questions about who he's going to start.
Here we go. Jose Contreras just finished off another effective inning of relief for the Phillies, meaning it's 3-0 Giants heading to the ninth. Meaning it's time for Brian Wilson to come on for the save.
Wilson has made four appearances so far this postseason, with 5.1 innings. Over those 5.1 innings, he's allowed three hits and two walks while striking out nine. He's going to face Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, and Raul Ibanez.
Jose Contreras worked an easy bottom of the seventh in keeping the Giants from adding to their lead. However, this game is no longer about the Giants adding more. It's about the Phillies trying to do what they can to get on the board, and they just haven't been able to get much of anything going.
Matt Cain's outing ended with the final out in the seventh, and Bruce Bochy went to lefty Javier Lopez to handle the top of the eighth. And Lopez just breezed right by, needing just nine pitches to set the Phillies' 2-3-4 down in order. Chase Utley popped out. Placido Polanco grounded out. And Ryan Howard whiffed on a breaking ball, drawing a roar from an already vocal, invested sellout crowd.
The Phillies only have three outs left to work with, and Brian Wilson has been warming in the San Francisco dugout.
Matt Cain is almost certainly done after a difficult seventh inning. But he was able to escape with his shutout intact.
The inning actually started well, with consecutive outs. Cain only got in trouble with two down and none on, when he clipped Carlos Ruiz's elbow with an inside pitch and then walked pinch-hitter Ross Gload. That brought Bruce Bochy out of the dugout for a quick chat, but Bochy returned having left Cain on the hill to face Shane Victorino, and after a six-pitch battle that saw Cain fall behind 3-1, Victorino grounded out to second to end the threat.
Cain's pitch count ran up to 119, and with relievers warming in the dugout, he should be finished. The Giants couldn't have asked for much more. His performance:
After seeing the Giants score two in the fourth and one in the fifth, the Phillies haven't had an answer. The top of the sixth went by on 14 pitches, with a pair of groundouts and a fly out. Matt Cain hasn't been dominant, but he's been very effective, and the Phillies simply haven't been able to take many good swings. The good news is that Cain's up to 95 pitches, but the bad news is that the San Francisco bullpen is a good one.
If nothing else, Cole Hamels was at least able to keep the Giants off the board in the sixth. He did it in convincing fashion, too, striking out Pat Burrell, striking out Cody Ross, and catching an Aubrey Huff infield fly by himself. Hamels is at 101 pitches, but his sixth inning was arguably his sharpest.
Going into the seventh, it's 3-0 Giants, and Nate Schierholtz has replaced Pat Burrell in the outfield for defensive purposes. Schierholtz is going to right, while Ross is sliding to left.
While Matt Cain is busy shutting the Phillies down, the Giants are busy playing add-on. Already up 2-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, Aaron Rowand led off with a double to left, and three batters later, Freddy Sanchez chopped a grounder to second base. The grounder, though, took a funny hop right in front of Chase Utley and bounced off of and away from him.
The ball ended up in shallow center field, and Rowand came around to score to put the Giants up 3-0. That's where we are, going into the sixth.
After your offense gets on the board, it's important for a pitcher to turn in a shutdown inning the next time he takes the mound. That's exactly what Matt Cain managed to do in the fifth. Cain made easy work of Carlos Ruiz and Cole Hamels, and though he walked Shane Victorino - and allowed him to steal second base - Cain focused on Chase Utley and got a weak groundout on a low outside changeup to second to end it.
Cain's got a shutout through five innings, and the Phillies are going to have to play catch-up.
The scoreless tie is a scoreless tie no more, as the Giants have gotten on the board against Cole Hamels in the bottom of the fourth. It started when Edgar Renteria smacked a leadoff single for the Giants' first baserunner of the game. He was bunted over to second, and two batters later, Pat Burrell drew a walk. That brought Cody Ross up to the plate, and with the crowd on its feet, Ross delivered yet again, pulling a low fastball into left field for an RBI single to put the home team on top.
Not to be outdone, Aubrey Huff followed Ross' heroics by pulling a groundball through the hole between first and second. The ball tipped off the glove of a diving Chase Utley and rolled into the outfield, and Burrell scored the Giants' second run.
It's 2-0 San Francisco going into the fifth, and Hamels is up to 69 pitches.
Cain got into trouble when, with one out, he allowed a flare single to Ryan Howard, and then walked Jayson Werth. He then fell behind Jimmy Rollins before inducing a harmless fly out to left, and Raul Ibanez finished off the inning with a swinging strikeout on an 0-2 high fastball.
Cain's pitch count stands at 66 through four, with 41 strikes.
So much for the mutual perfect game. The mutual shutout, however, remains intact.
That brought Cole Hamels to the plate looking to bunt, but Cain buzzed him up and in and Hamels wasn't able to get the bat on the ball. He wound up striking out, bringing up Shane Victorino with one on and two out.
Cain then came inside again and this time hit Victorino in the ribs, prompting an angry, frustrated reaction, but Cain navigated his way out of the jam by inducing a check-swing groundout off the bat of Chase Utley.
So we're off to the bottom of the third, still knotted up at 0-0.
The second inning went by even faster than the first one did - the end result of six consecutive batters getting out a little sooner. Matt Cain threw 13 pitches in the upper half, needing seven to punch out Jayson Werth, and he's now at 28 through two scoreless innings. Cole Hamels one-upped Cain by using 12 pitches in his perfect half, striking out Pat Burrell and getting sudden superhero Cody Ross to ground out harmlessly.
Ryan Howard put a good swing on a Cain pitch leading off the second and flew out to center, but that's about the best we've seen from either lineup in the early going.
Let another pitcher's duel commence. After Barry Bonds was one of four players to throw out a ceremonial first pitch in honoring the 2002 Giants team that lost in the World Series, Game 3 was underway, and after a quick inning of work, we've got no score.
Both Matt Cain and Cole Hamels worked perfect 1-2-3's. Cain threw 15 pitches, capping off his frame with a strikeout of Placido Polanco. Hamels threw 18 pitches, capping off his frame with a groundout to third by Buster Posey. All six at bats lasted at least four pitches, so we've seen some deep counts, but we haven't seen any baserunners.
Exactly the start you'd expect from these two teams in this stadium.
As shown in the previous update, Aaron Rowand will start in center field for the Giants in Game 3 of the NLCS against the Phillies. He's taking the place of Andres Torres, who has gone just 3-25 so far in the playoffs with 12 strikeouts. Bruce Bochy wants to give Torres a break, and he likes the matchup of having the right-handed Rowand in against the left-handed Cole Hamels.
Also of note: Pablo Sandoval remains on the bench, and Juan Uribe is back from a minor wrist injury that kept him out of Game 2. Uribe will play third base, while Edgar Renteria - who's playing through a torn bicep - will be the man at short.
Uribe's going to be playing through some soreness, and his spot in the lineup is subject to change, should he feel too much pain in pre-game swings. For now, though, all systems are go.
Edgar Renteria, SS
Freddy Sanchez, 2B
Buster Posey, C
Pat Burrell, LF
Cody Ross, RF
Aubrey Huff, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
Aaron Rowand, CF
Matt Cain, SP
Shane Victorino, CF
Chase Utley, 2B
Placido Polanco, 3B
Ryan Howard, 1B
Jayson Werth, RF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Raul Ibanez, LF
Carlos Ruiz, C
Cole Hamels, SP
(Sports Network) - Cole Hamels hopes to follow up his brilliant performance in the Division Series this afternoon when the NLCS shifts to San Francisco for a pivotal Game 3 between the Philadelphia Phillies and Giants at AT&T Park.
Hamels was absolutely terrific for the Phils in the NLDS, as he struck out nine batters in a five-hit shutout to seal the three-game sweep against the Reds back on Ocotber 10.
The 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP, who was 12-11 in the regular season with a 3.06 ERA, is now 6-3 with a 3.36 ERA in 11 playoff starts.
"Postseason is where it's at," Hamels said. "It's the ultimate time to really show what kind of player you are, what kind of pitcher you are. These are the types of games and types of moments when you set foot in spring training it's the ultimate goal for the whole team to go out and enjoy."
Hamels is 4-2 lifetime against the Giants, but has pitched to a 6.12 ERA in his four starts at AT&T Park. In two starts against them this season, he was 0-1 and surrendered nine runs in 11 innings.
The Phils can only hope that Hamels is as effective as Roy Oswalt was in Game 2. Oswalt tossed eight dynamite innings of one-run ball to help the Phillies pull even with the Giants behind a 6-1 decision at Citizens Bank Park.
Oswalt (1-0) fanned nine and gave up only three hits and three walks, throwing 71 of his 111 pitches for strikes in the longest postseason start of his career. He also singled and scored in Philadelphia's four-run seventh inning.
The only definitive mistake the 2005 NLCS MVP made on the mound was serving up a home run to Cody Ross, whose two round-trippers off Roy Halladay in Game 1 helped give the Giants a 4-3 victory for the early series edge.
The Phillies, who are vying to become the first NL team to reach the World Series in three straight years since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals, have never won a playoff series after losing the initial contest, but managed enough offense, namely a two-hit, four-RBI performance from Jimmy Rollins, who entered the contest with just one hit in his previous 17 at-bats.
"Hopefully, I can take what I did today and just keep it going," Rollins said. "I was glad I was the person up there at the moment and able to come through."
Jonathan Sanchez (0-1), moved up in the rotation due to his past successes against the Phils, yielded three runs -- two earned -- on five hits and three walks in six-plus frames to take the loss.
The Giants now turn to right-hander Matt Cain, as they will host their first League Championship Series contest since 2002 when they won a National League pennant.
"You get used to pitching in tight ballgames like this," Cain said. "Cole is going to go out there, throw the ball well, and you're expecting it to be a tight game and a good pitching matchup. So you get used to pitching in close ballgames and understand what the big pressure is like when those key times in the game kind of come about."
Cain did not get a decision in his Game 2 start in the NLDS against the Braves, but he pitched well, allowing just an unearned run in 6 2/3 innings of a game eventually lost by the bullpen. That start, though, came back on October 8
"Matt's been throwing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's been getting his work in. It's part of the schedule. It's been a while since their guy's thrown, too, so you're on a level playing field there. Just like it was ... before we started playing [this series]. I thought it was pretty impressive how the two teams played that first game [on Saturday] despite the time that we had to wait to play that game."
Cain, who was 13-11 with a 3.14 ERA this season, has never beaten the Phillies, posting an 0-3 mark with a 6.23 ERA in five starts.
"It's definitely exciting to be able to start off these three games at home," said Cain. "It will be fun to be able to get this thing started in front of our home crowd."
The Phillies split their six matchups with the Giants this season and since the start of the 2000 campaign, the teams are 36-36 against one another in the regular season.
Despite both teams being original NL franchises, this is the first-ever postseason matchup between the two.
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