Sixth proved fateful for the Phillies

Raul Ibanez can't make the catch on Pat Burrell's RBI double as he crashes into the left-field wall in the sixth inning. A crucial run scored on the misplay.
Raul Ibanez can't make the catch on Pat Burrell's RBI double as he crashes into the left-field wall in the sixth inning. A crucial run scored on the misplay.
Posted: October 17, 2010

Raul Ibanez retreated cautiously toward the left-field wall as Pat Burrell's long, high flyball descended menacingly out of the hazy darkness.

An hour or so earlier, when a 25 m.p.h. wind was gusting through Citizens Bank Park like the pregame energy of the soldout crowd for the National League Championship Series opener, it might have sailed over his head and into the jam-packed seats the way Cody's Ross two home runs had.

But now the wind was tamer and the Phillies outfielder appeared to have difficulty gauging just how far the ball might travel.

Ibanez got to the fence and leaped, even though it appeared he didn't need to. The ball settled briefly in his glove, but as the outfielder's momentum took him into the wall, it jarred loose.

"It hit off my glove," said Ibanez.

The resulting double by Burrell scored Buster Posey from first and turned a 2-1 Giants lead into a 3-1 edge. And when Juan Uribe followed with a third consecutive two-out hit off Roy Halladay, the irritated Phillies ace, San Francisco had handed Tim Lincecum a 4-1 advantage.

"I thought he hit it better than that," Ibanez explained afterward, when asked if the wind was a factor in the misplay. "And I thought it was going to go up off the top of the wall. By the time I jumped against the wall to get a little leverage and use the wall to get a little height, the ball was a little lower than I thought."

As a result, so is the Phillies confidence heading into Sunday night's Game 2, trailing 1-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2007.

That sequence, from a two-strike pitch to Burrell that Halladay thought was a strike to Uribe's RBI single, turned out to be the pivotal stretch in the Giants' 4-3 Game 1 win, the Phils first loss in a postseason opener since that 2007 NL division series with Colorado.

It began, as so many rallies do, innocently enough. After two weak groundball outs by Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff, Posey, whom Halladay had fanned twice, punched a single into centerfield.

Burrell, who received a schizophrenic welcome from the sold-out crowd - cheers during pregame introductions, boos at each at-bat - fell behind Halladay 1-2.

Halladay's next pitch looked like a strike, a fastball in the vicinity of the Giant's knees. Burrell's shoulders sagged and the Phils pitcher clearly thought he'd gotten his seventh strikeout.

But home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins called it a ball.

"Yeah, I did [think it was a strike]," said Halladay, who was flanked as he spoke by empty champagne bottles from earlier Phillies' victory celebrations.

Burrell, of course, didn't see it that way.

"It was a ball," he said. "I don't know. I haven't checked. . . . When he started me off with a fastball, I believe, and I got behind 0-2 again [I was] just really trying to get something to put a good swing on, keep the inning going, that was kind of our plan against him today, to keep the line moving."

Cousins' call briefly transformed Halladay into Cole Hamels, circa 2009.

He stalked off the mound and barked at Cousins, his scowl visible from the upper decks.

Burrell then bent and belted his next pitch, another low fastball, to deep leftfield for his eighth postseason extra-base hit.

"I might have gotten him with a different pitch there, looking back," said Halladay after his first postseason defeat.

As the ball eluded Ibanez, Halladay disappointingly scurried to back up home.

Burrell, who has played considerable leftfield in this ballpark, said he wasn't sure where the ball would land.

"He made a heck of an effort to get back there and get his glove on it," Burrell said of the man who replaced him for the Phils. "You never know in this park. You can hit some balls certain days and they can go over the fence and some days they don't."

When Posey scampered past him for the Giants' third run, Halladay said something again to the umpire, who by this time was obviously not one of his kissin' Cousins.

Still upset, his ruddy face nearly the shade of his cap, Halladay allowed Uribe's run-scoring single.

"I don't know if he thought he had him struck out or not," said Phils manager Charlie Manuel. "I thought the pitch was close."

The three two-out hits proved even more significant when Jayson Werth's two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, moved the Phils to within, 4-3.

Ibanez couldn't atone for his misplay at bat. He went 0-3 with a walk and watched a third strike from Brian Wilson to start the ninth inning.

"We definitely wanted to get off to a better start," said Ibanez. "It didn't work out that way. We've just got to come back and get after it again Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at 215-854-5068 or at ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.


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