SAN FRANCISCO – The castoff comes through with another big hit, the rookie delivers again. The slumping slugger emerges at exactly the right time, the guy too banged up to start comes through at the end.
It’s been that kind of season for the charmed San Francisco Giants, now just one win away from the World Series.
Juan Uribe, sore left wrist and all, hit a sacrifice fly off reliever Roy Oswalt with one out in the ninth inning Wednesday night, sending the Giants past the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 for a 3-1 lead in the N.L. Championship Series.
“It seems like all the baseball talk is all East Coast,” said Aubrey Huff, who slid home with the final run. “Everybody watching tonight saw exactly how we’ve played all year.”
Boosted by yet another big hit from late-season pickup Cody Ross, four hits and two RBIs from rookie Buster Posey and a two-run double from struggling Pablo Sandoval, the Giants pushed the two-time defending N.L. champion Phillies to the brink of elimination.
Philadelphia will send Roy Halladay against Tim Lincecum in Game 5 tonight. It’s a rematch of aces that Lincecum won in the opener.
“Two of the best arms in the game,” Posey said. “We’re in a good position. But at the same time, we know anything can happen in baseball.”
A champion with the White Sox in 2005, Uribe made his mark on this NLCS in a matter of moments – a great play with his glove, then one swing to win it.
Huff singled with one out in the ninth and took third when Posey singled for his fourth hit of the game. Uribe hit a medium-deep fly, leaving left fielder Ben Francisco with no chance to get Huff.
“Who doesn’t want to play now? I want to be here,” Uribe said. “In that moment, everybody knew my wrist was hurting a little bit. I think that’s why he threw a lot of fastballs in because he knew. I was trying to hit the ball deep enough to get the run home and for us to win the game.”
Going to Oswalt to begin the ninth backed manager Charlie Manuel’s words this was his club’s biggest game yet this year. Now, it will be today’s.
Uribe entered at shortstop in the top of the ninth. He immediately picked up a hard one-hopper by pinch-hitter Ross Gload in the hole and made a strong throw for the out.
That started a perfect ninth for winning pitcher Brian Wilson, the major league saves leader.
“I got butterflies,” Wilson said. “I got anxiety. I got a mini-ulcer developing, but it’s all worth it. We never lost focus.”
After Freddy Sanchez lined out to right to start the bottom of the ninth, Huff and Posey singled. Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth made a nice sliding stop on the warning track to keep Huff from scoring.
Then came Uribe, a quiet 1 for 7 in the NLCS before this one. On a 1-1 pitch, he claimed he got hit in the hand by Oswalt’s fastball, but umpire Wally Bell said it was a foul.
Uribe wound up with the winner moments later, leaving the Giants just one victory shy of reaching the World Series for the first time in eight years.