Giants top Phillies, 3-2, to advance to World Series
Sunday, October 24, 2010; 1:36 AM
PHILADELPHIA - It was getting deep in the game now, deep in the series, deep in the season. An October epic was taking shape - a benches-clearing staredown, starting pitchers jogging in from the bullpen, runners thrown out at the plate, inning after tension-packed inning creeping by with the same tie score.
It was Game 6 of the National League Championship Series, a game the Philadelphia Phillies were built to win, but one the San Francisco Giants were resolved not to lose. And now, it was beginning to come together for the visitors, the stadium filling with nervous silence - a cheap, tiebreaking homer to right, a fluky double-play to end the eighth.
And then, all of a sudden - strike three! - it was over, the Giants converging elatedly around their black-bearded closer, Brian Wilson, near the mound. The final out of a taut, 3-2 victory was secured - a borderline-call strikeout of Phillies slugger Ryan Howard - and the Giants, improbably, were headed to the World Series.
Your unlikely series MVP: Cody Ross, the waiver-claim right-fielder who had three homers and three other extra-base hits in the series, including a double Saturday night.
"I can't explain this," Ross said in the champagne-soaked Giants' clubhouse. "It's the most unbelievable experience I've ever had in my life."
Your unlikely winning pitcher in Game 6: Left-handed specialist Javier Lopez, who faced Phillies sluggers Chase Utley and Howard a combined 12 times in the series, and retired them 11 times, including one apiece in Saturday night's seventh inning - as the Giants' makeshift bullpen strung together 15 outs without surrendering a run.
Your unlikely hitting hero: Giants third baseman Juan Uribe, who hit the go-ahead homer off Phillies set-up man Ryan Madson with two outs in the top of the eighth - a Citizens Bank Park Special, barely sneaking out over the short porch in right - breaking a 2-2 tie that had stood since the top of the third.
Uribe was just 2 for 25 this postseason as he came to bat against Madson, and he had sat out Game 2 with a sore wrist. But he did hit the walk-off sacrifice fly that gave the Giants the victory in the ninth inning of Game 4, and is remembered on the South Side of Chicago for his defensive exploits in the 2005 World Series.
On Madson's first pitch, a fastball outside, Uribe stuck his bat out and connected. In perhaps 27 or 28 other ballparks in the majors, it would have been caught by the right fielder, or at most bounced off the wall for a double. But in this bandbox, it was a home run, and the Giants had a 3-2 lead.
"We have a different hero every night," Ross said. "It's never just one guy, over and over."
The Giants call their brand of baseball "torture," and this game may have been its ultimate expression. They fell behind two runs early, constantly pitched out of trouble and stranded runners all over the joint. And Wilson's ninth inning was its own torturous affair. He issued two walks, putting the go-ahead runs on base for Howard. But on a 2-2 pitch, Wilson dropped a 91-mph cutter on the outside corner. Umpire Tom Hallion rung up Howard. Ballgame.
"Maybe here on the East Coast, nobody watches our games," said Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff, "but that's the way we've played all year. We're not going to pound people, that's for sure. But our pitching keeps us in every game."