Roy Story 2: Philly sequel is light years better
Oswalt limits Giants to one run over eight, knots NLCS at 1
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino cracked a wide smile before he left Citizens Bank Park late Sunday night.
How different would his flight be to San Francisco?
Kind of obvious, isn't it?
The Phillies bounced back in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series with a 6-1 victory over the Giants to even the best-of-seven series. Had the Phils lost Game 2, they would have been in a tremendous hole, but thanks to a splendid effort from right-hander Roy Oswalt and some productive at-bats in a series where runs are scarce, Philadelphia headed to the West Coast with life.
"It's definitely big to get this 'W,'" Victorino said.
"It's a five-game series. It's not a best-of-seven anymore. It's a best-of-five."
"The biggest thing is it's momentum," Oswalt added. "You're trying to make momentum come back on your side."
Oswalt had been in this spot before with the Astros, who traded him to the Phillies in July. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols hit a memorable home run against Brad Lidge in Game 5 of the 2005 NLCS at Minute Maid Park. Houston still had a 3-2 lead in the series, but with the series headed back to St. Louis, some Astros fans got nervous, while every Cardinals fan got fired up.
Momentum had changed.
But Oswalt swung it back. He allowed one run in seven innings in a Game 6 victory to send the Astros to the World Series.
|10/21/04||Stl.||NLCS 7||2 *|
Game 2 on Sunday felt a lot like Game 6 in 2005.
"I went straight to the clubhouse after [Pujols] swung the bat and knew I needed to set a tone early in the game, and I was able to do it," Oswalt said. "I'm hoping for a momentum switch and [we can] get to San Francisco and take the series there."
Oswalt is 3-0 in the NLCS, with all three wins following his team's loss in the previous game. He allowed three hits, one run and three walks and struck out nine in eight brilliant innings Sunday against the Giants, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth. He also created his own insurance run in the seventh, when he hit a leadoff single and scored by running through third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign on Placido Polanco's single up the middle.
"When I got halfway, I saw the stop sign," Oswalt said. "I said, 'It's too late now, no turning back.'"
Jimmy Rollins blew open the game three batters later when he doubled off the right-field wall with the bases loaded to score three runs to give the Phillies a five-run lead.
But the biggest at-bats came in the first and fifth innings against Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who was 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies, holding them to a .147 average.
Chase Utley worked a five-pitch walk and stole second with one out in the first inning. He moved to third when Giants third baseman Mike Fontenot's throw to first base pulled Aubrey Huff off the bag to put runners at the corners. Ryan Howard walked on eight pitches to load the bases. Rollins walked on five pitches with two outs to score Utley to make it 1-0 without the Phillies even getting a hit.
J-Roll gets rollin'
|R. Howard||10/26/08||WS 4||T.B.||5|
|M. Thompson||10/20/93||WS 4||Tor.||5|
|J. Rollins||10/17/10||NLCS 2||S.F.||4|
|C. Utley||11/2/09||WS 5||NYY||4|
|J. Werth||10/21/09||NLCS 5||L.A.||4|
|S. Victorino||10/10/08||NLCS 2||L.A.||4|
|P. Burrell||10/5/08||NLDS 4||Mil.||4|
|S. Victorino||10/2/08||NLDS 2||Mil.||4|
|J. Rollins||10/4/07||NLDS 2||Col.||4|
|L. Dykstra||10/20/93||WS 4||Tor.||4|
|G. Matthews||10/7/83||NLCS 3||L.A.||4|
|S. Carlton||10/6/78||NLCS 3||L.A.||4|
|S. Victorino||10/21/09||NLCS 5||L.A.||3|
|S. Victorino||10/18/09||NLCS 3||L.A.||3|
|R. Howard||10/18/09||NLCS 3||L.A.||3|
|C. Ruiz||10/15/09||NLCS 1||L.A.||3|
|R. Ibanez||10/15/09||NLCS 1||L.A.||3|
|B. Myers||10/10/08||NLCS 2||L.A.||3|
|L. Dykstra||10/23/93||WS 6||Tor.||3|
|D. Daulton||10/20/93||WS 4||Tor.||3|
|J. Eisenreich||10/17/93||WS 2||Tor.||3|
|J. Kruk||10/9/93||NLCS 3||Atl.||3|
|G. Matthews||10/8/83||NLCS 4||L.A.||3|
|B. McBride||10/14/80||WS 1||K.C.||3|
|F. Luderus||10/13/15||WS 5||Bos.||3|
But the best part? The Phillies made Sanchez throw 35 pitches.
It was a small victory, which lead to a bigger one.
"You could tell that was the game plan," Giants catcher Buster Posey said of the Phillies' patience at the plate. "Victorino took a called strike three pitches in a row. You could tell they were trying to be patient."
Giants right fielder Cody Ross broke up Oswalt's no-hitter with one out in the fifth with -- what else? -- a solo home run to left-center field to make it 1-1. It was Ross' third home run in four at-bats in the series, which had everybody wondering what the Phillies can do to stop him.
But the Phils struck back in the bottom of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead. Victorino doubled into the left-field corner to get things started. The Phillies showed good things can happen when hitters put the ball in play. Utley flied out to right field, and Victorino advanced to third. Victorino scored on Polanco's sacrifice fly to center.
"Little things and play the game right," Polanco said.
So Philadelphia evened the series and hopped onto a plane knowing it has Cole Hamels twice and Roy Halladay and Oswalt once each in what is now a best-of-five series. Even with three of those games at A&T Park, the Phils like their chances.
"If you're down 2-0, you're in a rough spot," Phils right fielder Jayson Werth said. "We'd rather be up 2-0 going to San Fran, but we'll take the split. We'll try to win two out of three there, if not three out of three and win this series. Whatever we need to do to win this series, we're going to do it."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.