Phils make Giants pay on third-inning error
After Halladay caught off guard, misplay by Huff helps cause
SAN FRANCISCO -- Positioned in a do-or-die situation during Game 5 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park, the Phillies exited Thursday night's 4-2 win over the Giants with no need to apologize for the fact that they constructed their decisive three-run third inning without compiling many style points.
Aided by home-plate umpire Jeff Nelson's questionable call on Roy Halladay's sacrifice bunt attempt and a couple of miscues by San Francisco's corner infielders, the Phillies frustrated Tim Lincecum during a go-ahead third, staving off elimination to head back to Philadelphia down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
"You've got to find a way to get it done and find a way to make it happen," Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino said. "We were able to do it."
After going through the previous two games looking for the ball to start rolling their way again, the Phillies found some luck when Victorino's one-out grounder rolled up Aubrey Huff's right arm to allow them to score their first two runs in the fortune-filled third frame.
"It was definitely good to get that break," said Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez, who sparked the third with a leadoff single. "At the same time, Vic hit that ball really hard. It bounced hard and had a lot of spin on it."
Huff's error wouldn't have been so damaging to the Giants had Halladay's bunt attempt not proved disastrous. The bunt hit off the edge of the plate and remained in foul territory. Alertly realizing Nelson hadn't ruled the ball foul, rookie catcher Buster Posey quickly fired to third base, hoping to begin what could have been an easy double play.
But a backpedaling Pablo Sandoval received Posey's throw, then missed third base while stretching to retire Ibanez with what would have been a forceout. Because Halladay initially thought the ball was foul, Sandoval still had plenty of time to throw across the diamond to record at least one out.
"Lucky bounce, and a lucky play at third," said Halladay, who managed to limit the Giants to two runs in six innings, despite tweaking his groin in the second inning.
Halladay's perspective wasn't shared by Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who saw that foul ball alter the course of the frame for Lincecum, who was charged with three runs -- two earned -- and four hits in seven innings.
"We're inches away from getting a double play, and the bunt was right in front of home plate," Bochy said. "At that point, the third baseman goes back to the bag and we had a force there, and [Halladay] wasn't running. So that's a missed opportunity for us not getting the double play, and it came back to haunt us."
With runners positioned at second and third after Halladay was retired with the sacrifice bunt, Victorino shot his sharp grounder directly toward Huff, who could only watch when it bounced off him into the outfield. Ibanez and Carlos Ruiz, who had been hit by an 0-2 pitch, scored easily on the play as Victorino hustled to second base.
"I hit the ball all right," Victorino said. "I did hit it right at him. I think it was one of those plays. I don't know if he looked up to see the runner at third or what happened. I hit that ball OK. I hit it well enough. I wish it wasn't right at him. But again, it worked out."
Victorino's hustle paid off when Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single -- the decisive blow off Lincecum, who surrendered three of his four hits, ultimately keeping Philadelphia's World Series hopes alive.
"This team is going to scrap," Ibanez said. "It's going to grind and fight and give everything it has to make things happen. That's the kind of club that we are."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.