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After injuring his wrist in the first game of the series, Juan Uribe has dealt with lingering pain that led to his being left out of Game 4's starting lineup. And yet, in the end, he was the player to make the biggest difference.
Game 4 was a matchup of fourth starters, and it played out like one, as neither Philadelphia's Joe Blanton nor San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner lasted into the sixth inning. Both starters wound up working 4.2 frames, ultimately turning this one into a battle of the bullpens.
The Giants were able to get on the board in the first inning. Freddy Sanchez singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, moved to third on another wild pitch, and scored on a base hit by Buster Posey. That gave Bumgarner a very narrow edge to work with.
And he worked with it, keeping the Phillies scoreless into the third, when the Giants were able to add another run. This one also came off the bat of Posey, as the rookie backstop doubled home Aubrey Huff with two outs.
The score would remain 2-0 Giants into the top of the fifth, when Bumgarner got himself into some hot water. Consecutive singles put two on with none out, and after Blanton bunted the runners over, Shane Victorino sent a single up the middle. A strong throw by Aaron Rowand and a great pick by Posey gunned down one of the runners, but the other one scored, cutting a two-run deficit in half.
Bumgarner then allowed another single, and at that point, Bruce Bochy decided the safest course of action would be to go to the bullpen. In came Santiago Casilla, and on Casilla's fifth pitch, Placido Polanco lined a double into center field that scored both runners and gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
The inning would only get worse for Casilla, as a walk, a hit batter, and a wild pitch gave the Phillies another run. It was a 4-2 game going into the bottom of the fifth.
The Giants managed to get one of the runs back, when Huff singled home Andres Torres from second. It was at that point that Charlie Manuel removed his starter and went to the bullpen, and Jose Contreras was able to end the inning with a strikeout.
But the Giants grabbed the lead an inning later. After Pat Burrell led off with a walk against Chad Durbin and Cody Ross doubled, Pablo Sandoval stepped to the plate and ripped a line drive down the right field line. The ball appeared to graze the line, but the umpires ruled it a foul. Just a few pitches later, though, Sandoval straightened the ball out and send a screamer into the left-center gap that went for extra bases. Both Burrell and Ross came around to score, and the Giants went ahead 5-4.
The lead would hold up into the eighth. After Sandoval grounded into a double play with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies seized an opportunity to get back in the game. Ryan Howard led off with a double, and Jayson Werth followed with a double of his own off reliever Sergio Romo to knot the score at five. The Phillies had new life, and the Giants had a lot of regret.
The bottom of the ninth brought us Roy Oswalt out of the Phillies bullpen. Oswalt - who started on Sunday, and is scheduled to start again on Saturday - was selected over Brad Lidge, who was also warm. But Oswalt immediately allowed a lineout by Freddy Sanchez, and Huff followed by grounding a single into right field.
That brought Posey to the plate, and Posey slashed a single the other way. The ball approached the track and was cut off by a sliding Werth, but the Giants wound up with runners on the corners and one out.
Up came Juan Uribe, who had entered the game in the top of the ninth. Oswalt buzzed Uribe with an inside fastball that led to a disputed foul ball call. Uribe insisted that the ball hit his hand, while the umpire insisted that it hit the knob of his bat.
Uribe lost the argument and stayed in the batter's box, but he wound up winning the game just a few pitches later. Oswalt threw a low changeup on 2-2, and Uribe went down and lifted a fly ball into left field. Ben Francisco was able to make the catch, but he had no chance of throwing out Huff at home plate, and the Giants had a walk-off sacrifice fly.
The win went to Brian Wilson, who worked a perfect ninth inning. Oswalt got stuck with the loss.
So the Giants have taken a three games to one lead in the NLCS, and they will have a chance to close it out on home field Thursday night. They'll send staff ace Tim Lincecum to the mound opposite Philadelphia's ace Roy Halladay in a matchup of Game 1.
After Brian Wilson threw a perfect top of the ninth, the Phillies sent Roy Oswalt out to the mound in relief in an effort to send this game to extra innings. But either Oswalt didn't quite have it, or the Giants just didn't feel like playing extras, because there will be no tenth inning.
Freddy Sanchez made solid contact but lined out to lead off. He was followed by Aubrey Huff, who grounded a ball just past a diving Ryan Howard at first base for a single. That brought up Buster Posey, who slashed a long single into right field to put runners on the corners with one out.
Up came Juan Uribe, who didn't start the game due to concerns about his wrist. Uribe whiffed at a high fastball to start, but worked his way to a 2-2 count, and then Oswalt threw him a low changeup, which Uribe lifted into deep left field. Ben Francisco made the catch, but had no chance to throw out a tagging-up Huff, who scored the winning run and brought his teammates pouring out of the dugout.
The Giants handed the ball to Brian Wilson to start the top of the ninth, and Wilson did exactly what Bruce Bochy wanted him to do. Ross Gload grounded out on an athletic play at short by new sub Juan Uribe. Shane Victorino followed that with a strikeout at a slider in the dirt. And with two out and none on, Chase Utley lined to left, directly to Cody Ross (who shifted over to make room for Nate Schierholtz).
The perfect inning sends us to the bottom of the ninth, where Charlie Manuel has made the decision to go to Roy Oswalt out of the bullpen. Oswalt started on Sunday, and is scheduled to start again on Saturday.
The Phillies got the run they needed in the top of the eighth, and they got the inning they needed in the bottom of it.
Ryan Madson struck out Nate Schierholtz to lead off. Andres Torres followed with a base hit into right field, giving the Giants a baserunner, but Torres attempted a steal during the next at bat and was gunned down by a perfect throw by Carlos Ruiz to second base.
Immediately, the Giants begin to regret not cashing in on a glorious opportunity to add on in the seventh.
Up 5-4 in the top of the eighth, Javier Lopez allowed a double to left-center by Ryan Howard to leadoff. Lopez was replaced by Sergio Romo out of the bullpen, but Romo's third pitch was a low-inside slider to Jayson Werth that Werth ripped into left field for a double of his own. That base hit scored Howard from second and tied the game up at 5.
Suddenly, the Phillies were in position to take the lead. However, it was at that point that Romo beared down. After getting Jimmy Rollins to pop up, Romo struck out Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz on six consecutive sliders. That ended the inning and limited the damage, keeping it 5-5.
This game very nearly got away from the Phillies. They already gave away the lead in the sixth and couldn't score in the seventh, but immediately following the stretch, the Giants put together a threat that could've knocked the Phillies out.
Buster Posey doubled and Pat Burrell walked with one out, and Jimmy Rollins then bobbled a Cody Ross grounder to short, allowing everybody to reach. That brought Pablo Sandoval to the plate with the bases loaded, just an inning after his double put the Giants on top.
And facing Ryan Madson, Sandoval worked a long, eight-pitch at bat that saw him fall behind 1-2. But on a 2-2 count, Sandoval grounder a slider sharply to second base, where Chase Utley was able to begin an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
It was a bit of an unfamiliar situation for Javier Lopez in the seventh inning, when the lefty specialist was called on to come in out of the San Francisco bullpen and face a couple righties. But Lopez was able to do the job and protect the Giants' one-run lead.
Lopez issued a dangerous leadoff walk to Shane Victorino, which was never anybody's plan. The left-handed Chase Utley then stepped in, and he bailed out on an outside slider and popped the ball up in the infield. Utley held his head down and didn't so much as look at his own pop-up.
With one down, Placido Polanco came up. Lopez threw him a 1-1 fastball on the low-away corner, and Polanco grounded a ball right to Freddy Sanchez at second base. Sanchez started a textbook 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and send us to the stretch.
Behind just 4-3, the Giants got the inning they needed from Santiago Casilla in the top of the sixth. Casilla made quick work in slicing through the Phillies 1-2-3, including a strikeout of Carlos Ruiz.
That sent us to the bottom half, where the Giants were able to continue the rally they'd started an inning earlier and take the lead back. Righty Chad Durbin came in out of the Phillies bullpen. He issued a leadoff walk to Pat Burrell, and then, after getting ahead of Cody Ross 1-2, allowed a double to left that put runners on second and third with nobody out.
Pablo Sandoval stepped up to the plate, and he stepped up hacking. On the first pitch, Sandoval ripped a line drive down the right field line, but the umpires decided it was a foul ball. You can be the judge:
Replays appeared to show that the ball barely clipped the line, which would make it fair. That stood as a potentially critical missed call, but Sandoval made up for it just four pitches later, when he split the outfield with a line drive to left-center. Shane Victorino took a bad angle and wound up chasing the ball to the wall, and Burrell and Ross were able to score with ease on Sandoval's two-run double.
That put the Giants in front 5-4. Unfortunately for them, they would strand Sandoval where he was, as Travis Ishikawa struck out and two hitters popped out. But they'll be thrilled to have the lead, and they're now nine outs away from getting in front of the Phillies three games to one in the NLCS.
Javier Lopez is on out of the San Francisco bullpen to work the seventh.
The Giants absorbed a disheartening top of the fifth, but the bottom half has seen them get right back into the game. Andres Torres - just inserted into the game minutes earlier as part of a double switch - led off by drawing a five-pitch walk. He would advance to second on a groundout.
Freddy Sanchez came up and scorched a ball into center, but it was hit right to Shane Victorino for the second out. However, Aubrey Huff got a low 0-1 fastball from Joe Blanton and sent it right back up the middle. The base hit scooted all the way to Victorino, who came up throwing, but Torres was able to beat the play at the plate, and the Giants have trimmed the game to 4-3.
Charlie Manuel decided that was enough, and removed Blanton in favor of Jose Contreras. Blanton's night:
3 runs (so far)
63 pitches (45 strikes)
This has turned into a battle of the bullpens.
It didn't go that way. The first batter Casilla faced was Placido Polanco, and on a 2-2 pitch, Polanco split the outfielders by sending a ball to the left-center gap. The double scored both Shane Victorino and Chase Utley, giving the Phillies a 3-2 lead.
The next batter was Ryan Howard, and the Giants decided to issue an intentional walk to get to a righty, but then Casilla clipped Jayson Werth's jersey with an inside pitch to load the bases. And with the bases loaded, Casilla uncorked a wild pitch that scored another run and allowed everyone to move up.
Jimmy Rollins would end up striking out and ending the inning there, but the Phillies struck for four, and have a 4-2 lead at the halfway point.
The Phillies have made a game of this now. After falling behind 2-0 in the first four innings, the Phillies came out swinging in the fifth. Ben Francisco led off with a base hit up the middle. Carlos Ruiz followed with a line drive single to right. Joe Blanton then bunted the runners over to 2nd and 3rd, bringing Shane Victorino to the plate with one down and the tying run in scoring position.
And Victorino was able to come through with a base hit to center. The single scored Francisco from third, but Ruiz was thrown out by Aaron Rowand when Buster Posey made a phenomenal catch. Rowand's throw home was right on target, but it short-hopped the catcher. Posey, though, made a perfect grab and tag of the charging Ruiz, keeping the Giants in front 2-1.
It was a celebratory moment for Bumgarner and the stadium, but when Chase Utley came up next and ripped a line drive single, Bruce Bochy decided that he'd seen enough and came out to get Bumgarner from the mound. Santiago Casilla is now in out of the Giants bullpen to try and work out of a two-out jam.
1 run (so far)
85 pitches (53 strikes)
Also in the game: Andres Torres, replacing Aaron Rowand as part of a double switch. This being the fifth inning, these moves are being made early, but it's never too early to play for the win in the playoffs.
After a leadoff fly out, Placido Polanco singled to left and Ryan Howard drew a walk to put two on with one out. Jayson Werth came up and lined a ball hard into right field, but he hit it straight to Cody Ross, who made an easy catch for the second out. Jimmy Rollins then stood in and watched as Bumgarner dropped in a 2-2 backdoor slider over the outer half to end the threat. The strikeout was Bumgarner's sixth in four innings.
So we go to the fifth inning with the score 2-0 San Francisco. Bumgarner has thrown 68 pitches, against just 50 from Blanton.
After Madison Bumgarner worked a scoreless second, the Giants weren't able to add to their lead, wasting a leadoff runner when Cody Ross was hit in the elbow by an inside pitch from Joe Blanton. Ross wound up stranded at second base after consecutive strikeouts.
Bumgarner then came out in the third and went 1-2-3 on the Phillies, striking out Carlos Ruiz, striking out Joe Blanton, and getting Shane Victorino to ground out. Since a shaky first, Bumgarner has thrown 27 pitches, with 19 strikes, and he's allowed just one runner.
And in the bottom of the third, the Giants were able to double their lead. The first two hitters made outs, putting Blanton in a good position, but Aubrey Huff lined a two-out single to right, bringing Buster Posey to the plate. And on a 1-1 pitch, Posey drilled a low inside changeup over the head of Ben Francisco in left, scoring Huff all the way from first base.
It was the second RBI of the game for Posey, and the Giants now head to the fourth up 2-0.
Armed with a lead, every pitcher just wants to come back with a shutdown inning, and that's what Madison Bumgarner was able to do in the top of the second.
Bumgarner started off with a Jayson Werth fly out. He then allows Jimmy Rollins to ground a single into left for the Phillies' first hit of the game, but a six-pitch battle with Ben Francisco concluded with a strikeout on a fastball over the plate.
With one on and two out, Carlos Ruiz stepped in, trying to keep the inning alive. Ruiz would see a couple pitches and fall behind 0-2, but on Bumgarner's third pitch, Rollins took off for second, and Bumgarner made a throw over to first. Aubrey Huff caught the ball and immediately threw down to second, where shortstop Edgar Renteria came in, slid, caught the ball, and applied a tag on Rollins all in one motion for an incredible, successful pickoff.
Rollins and first base coach Davey Lopes argued for a balk, but nothing was called, and we're off to the bottom of the second.
Madison Bumgarner came out and had an effective, if shaky, top of the first. He threw only eight strikes out of 17 pitches, and beaned Placido Polanco on a 2-1 count, but he struck Ryan Howard out swinging to end the inning and keep the Phillies scoreless.
That took us into the bottom half, where the Giants were able to get out to a quick 1-0 lead. Freddy Sanchez grounded a one-out single into left field. He then advanced to second on a Joe Blanton wild pitch, and after a strikeout, he advanced to third on another Joe Blanton wild pitch.
Blanton only needed to retire Buster Posey to end the inning, but Posey was able to stay back on a two-strike offspeed pitch over the outer half, and he hit a grounder back up the middle and into center field for an RBI single. It was Posey's first RBI of the playoffs, and it came at a good time.
Bumgarner's going out for the second now armed with a lead.
In Game 4 of the NLCS, we see one significant change in the Phillies' starting lineup - Ben Francisco is in, and Raul Ibanez is out. The right-handed Francisco takes Ibanez's place in left field because they're going up against the left-handed Madison Bumgarner, and Francisco has hit .267 against southpaws for his career with a .806 OPS. He's hit .284 against lefties in 2010.
We see some interesting things in Wednesday's starting lineup for the Giants. For one thing, Juan Uribe is out of the game, replaced by Pablo Sandoval at third base. Sandoval hasn't started since Game 2 of the NLDS against Atlanta due to some struggles, but he's getting a chance against the right-handed Joe Blanton, as Uribe's wrist isn't feeling 100% after sustaining a minor injury earlier in the series.
Additionally, Andres Torres remains out of the lineup, with Aaron Rowand staying in and batting eighth, playing center field. Torres has struggled in the playoffs, with a ton of strikeouts, but Rowand has been bad against right-handed pitchers, so Bruce Bochy is making a gutsy decision here.
(Sports Network) - Madison Bumgarner hopes to pitch San Francisco to the cusp of a National League pennant this evening when the Giants play Game 4 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park.
The Giants wrestled control of the set on Tuesday, as Matt Cain turned in seven scoreless innings and Cody Ross drove in a run, helping San Francisco to a 3-0 win. Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff also knocked in a run each for the Giants, who have taken a two games to one series edge.
Cain (1-0) allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking three during his outing, his first career victory over the two-time defending National League Champions.
"(I was) just trying to focus on making my pitches and getting in the pitching counts where I'm ahead and trying to make them a little more defensive," Cain said when asked about his mindset for the start. "That was my goal today. And that's what we just kept trying to do from the start to the end."
Aaron Rowand, a Phillies outfielder from 2006-07, finished with a double and scored a run for San Francisco, which hasn't advanced to the World Series since falling to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2002.
Cole Hamels (1-1) worked six innings, charged with five hits and three runs while fanning eight and walking one for the Phillies, who last faced a 2-1 series deficit in the 2009 World Series.
"I'd say tomorrow's the biggest game we've played so far. Today was pretty big but now tomorrow's gonna be bigger," noted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel about the possibility the series will either be tied or be 3-1 for the Giants late Wednesday.
The Phillies, of course, are trying to become the first National League team to advance to three straight World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.
Bumgarner will try to put a damper on those hopes tonight when he goes after his second win of this postseason. Bumgarner pitched the Giants into the NLCS with a Game 4 win in the NLDS over the Atlanta Braves, as he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of that one.
"I saw a kid that went out there and competed very well," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had good stuff and was throwing hard. I've said this so many times about him since we brought him up here: For a 21-year-old kid, I just love the way he carries himself. He handles himself out on the mound, keeps his poise and competes very well. But he has good stuff to go with it and did a great job in that game."
The 10th overall pick by the Giants in the 2007 draft, Bumgarner was 7-6 in his rookie campaign, while pitching to a 3.00 ERA. However, he pitched to a 1.18 ERA in his final six regular season starts.
"I'll just try to throw strikes and get ahead of guys," he said about his game plan for Game 4. "I'm just going to go out there and try to throw quality pitches each time and see how it goes."
Philadelphia, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Joe Blanton, who will make his first start in these playoffs. There was some thought that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel would opt to go back to Roy Halladay on short rest, but the NL Cy Young candidate will pitch as scheduled on Thursday.
"If you move one up, you've got to move all three up," Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "If you move one up and then you pitch Joe, well then you're pitching him anyway. We think Joe is very capable. Don't slight this guy. This guy has pitched us some good baseball for us in the second half. And he's pitched well in San Francisco."
Blanton was 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA, but was 6-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his final 13 starts.
He has also pitched to a 3.57 ERA in three starts in San Francisco.
"He has pitched good against San Francisco," Manuel said. "He's very capable of pitching real good. He hasn't pitched for quite a while -- that's the only thing."
Blanton, who hasn't pitched since October 3 and hasn't started a game since September 29, is 2-0 in eight postseason games (five starts) with a 3.89 ERA.
"There's not going to be any change," Blanton said. "If you're down 2-1 it's almost like a must win."
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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