10/18/10 1:30 AM ET
Flipping Utley, Polanco in lineup pays off
By Todd Zolecki, Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
The decision to sandwich Placido Polanco between Utley and Howard proved fruitful for the Phillies in Sunday night's 6-1 win over the Giants at Citizens Bank Park. Polanco drove in a couple of clutch runs and Utley took advantage of the chance to record a pair of stolen bases that helped shape the first and seventh innings.
"I liked the way we played," Manuel said. "Utley looked good in the two-hole tonight. And he did a good job. Stolen bases were big."
With the Giants starting left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, Manuel separated his two left-handed sluggers (Howard and Utley) and allowed Polanco to sit in the three-hole -- a spot he manned for 19 games during the regular season.
Utley drew the first of the three first-inning walks issued by Sanchez and then stole second base before Mike Fontenot's throwing error put runners at the corners with just one out. Had there been two outs, the Giants hurler might have been more aggressive than he was during what evolved into an eight-pitch walk drawn by Howard.
Through the first four innings, the Phillies' lone run came courtesy of the bases-loaded first-inning walk drawn by Jimmy Rollins. Shane Victorino began the bottom of the fifth with a double and scored when Utley and Polanco followed with consecutive sacrifice flies.
"That's the type of ball you're probably going to play when you're facing teams with good pitching," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's the same with us. You try to score it any way you can, and that's why you'll see some small ball."
The Phillies gained some comfort with a four-run seventh inning that was fueled by small ball. Victorino's sacrifice bunt moved Roy Oswalt to second base with one out and led the Giants to intentionally walk Utley. Polanco responded by greeting right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez with an RBI single that gave the Phils a 3-1 lead.
Polanco's productive evening brought back postseason memories created four years ago. While playing for the Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series, the veteran infielder hit .529 (9-for-17) and tallied a pair of RBIs -- a total he has already matched in this NLCS.
"He did a good job tonight," Manuel said. "Of course, he singled in a run and he played a heck of a game. He can handle the bat good for us, and that's basically [what helped us get] the sac fly. That's exactly what we needed. Polly is that kind of hitter, and tonight, he got some situations where he could produce."
-- Mark Bowman
Blanton in line for Game 4, but could be Doc
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Sunday that Joe Blanton remains his starter for Game 4 on Wednesday in San Francisco, but he left some room to change his mind.
"That's still our plan," Manuel said before Game 2 of the National League Championship Series. "But we'll just take it day to day and see what happens."
If the Phillies trail the NLCS entering Game 4, they could start Roy Halladay on short rest. Halladay has pitched on short rest five times in his career as a starter. (He started on short rest two other times, but those followed relief appearances.) Halladay is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA (seven earned runs in 37 innings) in those five starts, but he has made just one start on short rest since 2004.
Lidge aims to shake off rust in next chance
PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies closer Brad Lidge said he hopes for the opportunity to pitch a clean inning Sunday in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.
He threw a scoreless ninth inning Saturday in a 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 1, but he allowed a hit and a walk and hit a batter to load the bases with one out. Lidge worked out of the jam, but he showed signs of rust pitching for the first time in eight days and just the third time this month.
"I felt good, but there was just a hair of rust," Lidge said. "It was definitely good work for me to get out there and throw in that situation. Hopefully I'll be able to do it with a lead [Sunday]. Whenever it's been a long stretch, you want to get out there put up a hoop any way you can, so I'll take it. Hopefully I'll be a little sharper the next time out.
"I felt strong, but the fastball probably felt a little too strong. I could have probably taken some off and maybe be better off. But stuff-wise, I felt real good."
Moyer not in consideration for Phils in playoffs
PHILADELPHIA -- Left-hander Jamie Moyer has not pitched since July because of an elbow injury, and he will not pitch again until Spring Training.
Moyer, despite the fact he said he feels healthy, was not an option for the Phillies' National League Championship Series roster. He also is not an option for the potential World Series roster.
"He hasn't pitched," manager Charlie Manuel said. "He hasn't pitched in a game. I find that a little tough."
Howard pays visit to Eagles' sideline
PHILADELPHIA -- Stand-up comic one day, NFL offensive coordinator the next. Phillies slugger Ryan Howard is everywhere these days.
After delivering David Letterman's Top 10 list last week, Howard was on television again Sunday afternoon, appearing on the sidelines during the FOX broadcast of the Eagles-Falcons game at Lincoln Financial Field. The home of the Eagles sits right across the street from Citizens Bank Park, where the Phillies will try to even the National League Championship Series against the Giants on Sunday night (8 ET on FOX).
"I think I'll go try and call some plays if I can," Howard joked.
Perhaps he should stay out of it. The Eagles were up, 14-0, at the time.
Philadelphia's football team was having better luck than its baseball team did on Saturday night against Giants ace Tim Lincecum. Lincecum worked seven innings for the Game 1 win, though FOX sideline reporter Tony Siragusa thought that he "looks like a little kid."
Looks are deceiving, Howard said.
"He's one of the greatest pitchers in the game right now, and he was pretty tough last night," Howard said. "He's so calm and cool under pressure. He just goes out and does his thing."
Lincecum snapped the Phillies' seven-game winning streak in postseason Game 1s. Now the Phillies have to fight back.
"We're still very confident in our ability," Howard said. "We've been down before in a series."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.