Phillies survive Game 5 to send NLCS back to Philly

Posted: October 22, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO - If it is going to end in disappointment, it is going to end in disappointment at home, a place where the Phillies have played an entire season in front of sellout crowds, a place where they have won 15 of 19 games over the last three postseasons, in a city that last personally witnessed the end of a playoff run 27 years ago in Game 5 of the 1983 World Series.

They entered last night with one goal: head home alive.

And after Brad Lidge put the finishing touches on a 4-2 victory over the Giants at AT & T Park, that's exactly what they did, hopping a cross-country flight back to Philadelphia, where tomorrow this best-of-seven National League Championship Series continues with the Phillies needing two straight victories to stave off elimination and advance to their third straight World Series.

"There's a little bit of relief, but we're still not in the driver's seat," said centerfielder Shane Victorino, who hit a sharp ground ball that turned into a two-run error in the Phillies' three-run third inning against Giants ace Tim Lincecum. "Our backs are still against the wall. We're still down 3-2. It's a one-game series again. That's how we have to look at it. We can't look too far ahead. Did we steal a little bit? I think a little bit of the momentum. But I'm not saying we grabbed it all back."

They will say that they aren't in the statement-making business, that last night was all about survival. Still, everywhere you looked there was evidence of a team intent on sending notice to a hostile crowd that they had no intention of fading into the foggy California night.

Roy Halladay turned in one of his grittiest performances of the season, pitching through a groin strain he suffered in the early going to limit the Giants to two runs in six innings despite noticeably diminished velocity. He was backed by a number of inspired efforts, from the dominance of the bullpen - Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero combined to toss a scoreless seventh, Ryan Madson struck out the side in the eighth, and Lidge pitched a perfect ninth - to the timeliness of Jayson Werth, who led off the ninth inning with a solo home run and ended the fifth by fielding a fly out and then making a terrific throw to third to catch Cody Ross attempting to advance.

At no point did the Phillies display any of the emotional drain that sometimes follows a dramatic loss like the one they suffered the night before in Game 4. After Werth's throw to get Ross, Halladay pumped his fist and let out a roar. Earlier, the veteran righthander shared a tense moment with Pat Burrell, who shouted a couple of expletives at him after apparently taking exception to Halladay staring at him as he walked off the field following a first-inning strikeout.

Halladay strained his groin during an at-bat against Ross in the second inning. The injury, which manager Charlie Manuel and Halladay said should not limit him moving forward, had a noticeable effect on his sinker and cutter, the two pitches that serve as the backbone of his game.

"I felt like it was something I could get by with," said Halladay, who allowed a run in the first and one in the fourth but made some huge pitches to avoid further trouble.

He also played a big role in one of the game's pivotal plays, a controversial sacrifice bunt that helped put the Phillies' three-run third inning in motion.

With runners on first and second and no outs, he dropped a bunt that appeared to be in foul territory when Giants catcher Buster Posey plucked it from the dirt around home plate. Posey threw the ball, ruled fair, to third base for the force, but Pablo Sandoval was unable to find the bag with his foot before Raul Ibanez slid in safely (Halladay, who reacted as if the ball was foul, was thrown out at first).

The Phillies finished the inning with three runs, two coming when Victorino's grounder caromed off Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff and rolled into the outfield (it was charged an error), and the other on a Polanco liner to left.

It ended up being enough. After Halladay left the game, Contreras and Romero combined to shut down the seventh, and Madson struck out the heart of the Giants' lineup in order in the eighth.

"I think everybody has to feel good about our situation," Halladay said. "We're going back to our place and we have really two of our best pitchers down the stretch going out there. We needed obviously to get back to Philly, but I think we're looking forward to it."

Then came Lidge, and the smooth save in the ninth, and the chance to live at least 2 more days. Six times in 30 tries has a team recovered from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series to advance to the World Series.

"We did exactly what we had to do," Manuel said. "We won the game."

Now, they must win two more.

For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/HighCheese.

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