SAN FRANCISCO – Doc got the best of The Freak this time in a rematch of aces.
Roy Halladay pitched through a groin pull, outdueling Tim Lincecum and keeping the Philadelphia Phillies alive in the N.L. championship series with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.
Jayson Werth’s solo homer in the ninth quieted the raucous sellout crowd of 43,713, and many fans began making for the exits even before Philadelphia pulled within 3-2 in the best-of-7 series.
Halladay’s bunt – which appeared to be foul – helped spark a three-run third inning, when Shane Victorino drove in the first of two runs that scored on a fielding error by first baseman Aubrey Huff.
“I don’t know,” Halladay said of the bunt. “It happened so quick.”
Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single, and the two-time reigning N.L. champions forced a Game 6 back home in Citizens Bank Park on Saturday and another cross-country trip. Jonathan Sanchez starts for the Giants against Roy Oswalt, who is 10-0 in 12 starts for Philly this year.
Halladay improved to 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three postseason starts this year.
Philadelphia put San Francisco’s celebration on hold, taking this matchup of Cy Young Award winners after Lincecum came out on top in the opener. The Giants now must win once in two tries on the road for the franchise’s fourth pennant since moving West in 1958. San Francisco has not been to the World Series since the Giants’ Barry Bonds-led team lost Game 7 to the Angels in 2002.
After Ryan Madson struck out the Giants’ 4-5-6 hitters in the eighth, Brad Lidge finished things off for the Phillies with a perfect ninth for his second save of the postseason.
Philadelphia will try to become the 12th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-7 series. The Red Sox were the last to do it in the 2007 ALCS against Cleveland.
“From our perspective we see ourselves more in the driver’s seat than them, more in control. It’s up to us,” Lincecum said.
The Giants put the possible tying run in scoring position in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings but couldn’t capitalize, losing in a potential postseason clincher at home for the first time since Game 7 of the 1962 World Series against the New York Yankees.
In a series dominated by pitching, the Phillies are hitting just .209 and the Giants .220. Little has separated the teams – and despite trailing in the series, Philadelphia has outscored San Francisco 18-16.
Halladay hardly had no-hit stuff, but he had his edge. The pitcher stared down Pat Burrell after a called third strike to end the first, and Burrell jawed at Halladay while sprinkling in profanities. Clearly fuming in the dugout afterward, Halladay returned to the mound seemingly unfazed by that moment or a steady drizzle that hit during parts of the later innings. Halladay kept dealing, even if he wasn’t his most dazzling.
Lincecum, the two-time reigning N.L. Cy Young Award winner, beat Halladay five days earlier. He was 2-0 so far this postseason and pitched another solid game except for one rough inning, but the offense failed to back him.
Halladay labored at times and threw 108 pitches in six innings, far from the control and dominance he exhibited in tossing only the second no-hitter in postseason history Oct. 6 to start off the Phillies’ division series sweep against the Cincinnati Reds.