SAN FRANCISCO – Cody Ross keeps doing his best Barry Bonds imitation.
With the home run king watching and cheering from a front-row seat, Ross delivered again, Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels and the San Francisco Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Cain allowed two hits over seven innings, struck out five and walked three in a strong 119-pitch effort.
Javier Lopez pitched the eighth and Brian Wilson finished it for his fourth postseason save and second in as many tries this series.
Picked up off waivers in August from Florida, Ross added to his quickly growing postseason legacy. He homered three times in the first two games at Philadelphia and hit an RBI single in Game 3 to break a scoreless tie.
“He plays with no fear,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s what you love about the guy.”
The modest Ross insists he’s far from deserving of comparisons to Bonds or Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson.
Bochy even tinkered with his lineup, moving Ross up into the No. 5 spot. The good-natured guy who aspired to be a rodeo clown as a kid came to the plate to chants of “Cody! Cody!”
“It’s an easy name to chant, that’s probably why. Two syllables,” Ross said. “It’s been an unbelievable experience for me so far. A month and a half, two months, ago, I didn’t dream I’d be in this situation. The Giants were awesome to bring me over here. It’s just been a great ride.”
San Francisco grabbed the edge in its best-of-7 series against the two-time defending N.L. champions – with two more games in their home ballpark.
Bonds, wearing his old No. 25 jersey, got the towel-waving sellout crowd of 43,320 going at AT&T Park when introduced on the field before the first pitch with three other ex-Giants. He threw his arms up in the air and waved, generating wild cheers.
The Giants have never won the World Series since moving West to San Francisco before the 1958 season. They came within six outs of a title in 2002, led by Bonds’ slugging.
The last time this franchise won it all was in 1954, as the New York Giants. On a team that included future Hall of Famer Willie Mays and other big-name players, it was a part-time outfielder who hit .253 in his career – Dusty Rhodes – who emerged as the Series star with two homers in six at-bats.
So far this postseason, that role of unlikely hero belongs entirely to Ross, an outfielder with a lifetime .265 average.
Ross hit an RBI single in the fourth inning to break a scoreless tie and fellow playoff first-timer Aubrey Huff followed with a run-scoring single.
Aaron Rowand earned a start in center for the Giants, then doubled and scored on Freddy Sanchez’s fifth-inning single.