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 NL championship series with a 4-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants in the NL championship series 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-seven 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 NL 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 in Phillly this year.
"We'll be ready to play," Werth said.
Halladay improved to 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA in three postseason starts this year, doing it despite a leg injury.
"Second inning, Halladay, he had a mild groin pull, his right groin," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Of course, he stayed in there. He was determined he was going to stay in there."
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-seven 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 NL 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.
Even with the groin pull, Halladay allowed two runs and six hits, struck out five and walked two – including a free pass to leadoff man Andres Torres in the first that led to a run on Buster Posey's RBI groundout. The defense behind him even had a few bobbles Thursday but came through.
After San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy's managerial moves paid off in the previous two games, Manuel made some tweaks that were spot on.
Manuel flipped the top of his order, going with Polanco back in the No. 2 hole – where he batted in Game 1 against Lincecum – after Chase Utley had been there the previous three games. Utley batted third, giving the Phillies three lefties among his first four hitters including switch-hit leadoff man Victorino.
Raul Ibanez also was back in left field for the Phillies after sitting out against a lefty starter Wednesday. He snapped an 0-for-15 funk with a single to start Philadelphia's three-run third inning.
After Ibanez's hit, Lincecum plunked Carlos Ruiz – the record-tying fourth time Ruiz has been hit this postseason. Halladay laid down a bunt that catcher Buster Posey picked up right near the plate. Posey threw to third, but Pablo Sandoval could not get back to the bag for the force. Halladay did not run, thinking it was a foul ball, and was easily thrown out at first.
Lincecum gave up a single to Utley in the third, then retired the next 11 batters in order before Jimmy Rollins singled to start the seventh. Rollins then stole second and third, becoming the first to steal two bags in one inning of an NLCS game since New York's Roger Cedeno in Game 4 of the 1999 NLCS.
More Cody Ross signs came out for Game 5, including "CODY ROSS (equal) SORRY DOC." He delivered again, though this time it wasn't enough.
Ross, who homered twice off Halladay in Game 1, struck out swinging to start the second but hit an RBI double in his next at-bat in the fourth to pull the Giants within 3-2. Burrell doubled before Ross. The Giants did little else.
They will have to wait at least a couple of days for the chance to pop more champagne – and that's nothing new around here. San Francisco clinched the NL West in its third try on the final day of the season.
"With this club, we don't do anything easy," Bochy said. "What they've been through, they'll put this behind us. Believe me, under no illusion did we think this was going to be easy playing a great club."
Notes: Utley stole his third base of the series and fourth of the postseason. He is 10 for his last 10 steal attempts in the postseason since being thrown out for the only time by Russell Martin in Game 3 of the 2008 NLCS at Dodger Stadium. ... Former Giants manager and beloved outfielder Felipe Alou, Jim Davenport, Cepeda, Mays and Eddie Bressoud all threw out ceremonial first pitches as part of a tribute to the 1958 club. Mays tipped his cap to the cheering crowd. ... The walk to Torres was just the first leadoff walk by Halladay all year. ... Ruiz tied Miguel Cairo – in 2004 with the Yankees – for most times being hit in a postseason. ... The Giants had won five straight Game 5s. Since the NLCS went to seven games in 1985, only the 2003 Chicago Cubs and 1996 St. Louis Cardinals have lost after leading the series 3-1.