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.