x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Oswalt pulls one back for the Phillies

NL championship series tied at 1-1 as Giants batters struggle against pitcher whose night is made as he scores a run in seventh.

Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Oswalt slides safely home past Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants catcher, during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NL Championship Series on Sunday.
Philadelphia Phillies’ Roy Oswalt slides safely home past Buster Posey, the San Francisco Giants catcher, during the seventh inning of Game 2 of the NL Championship Series on Sunday.

PHILADELPHIA // Roy Oswalt was good on the mound, pesky at the plate and daring on the bases. Call that a complete game - sort of.

Oswalt pitched eight dominant innings, Jimmy Rollins drove in four runs and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the San Francisco Giants 6-1 on Sunday night to even the National League championship series at one game apiece.

The series shifts to San Francisco for Game 3 today.

Matt Cain faces Philadelphia's Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP.

Oswalt allowed one run and three hits, striking out nine. He also singled and scored a run in the seventh inning after racing through a coach's signal to stop at third base and sliding home ahead of the tag.

Instead of his pitching, everyone wanted to know what he was thinking on the bases.

"First thing in my mind was score," Oswalt said. "When I got halfway, I saw the stop sign. I said it's too late now. No turning back."

Rollins kidded Oswalt about it.

"It was a nice slide," he said. "That was something I would do. Actually, I probably wouldn't have needed to slide."

Cody Ross hit his third solo homer in two games for the Giants, who struck out 10 times.

Rollins busted out of a one-for-15 post-season slump, going two-for-three with a bases-loaded walk and a three-run double.

"I knew it was just a matter of time," Rollins said.

Oswalt showed why the Phillies, the two-time NL champions, got him from Houston before the trade deadline, shutting down the Giants in a crucial spot.

"You can't get caught up in the moment of trying to get momentum back on your side," Oswalt said. "You have to pitch your game."

Jonathan Sanchez, the Giants starter, gave up three runs - two earned - and five hits in six-plus innings. The lefty had dominated the Phillies in his five previous starts against them, not allowing more than four hits in any outing.

"It's 1-1, you know? It's tied. We've got to go out there and start winning," Sanchez said.

Oswalt chased Sanchez with a line-drive single leading off the bottom of the seventh. He advanced to second on Shane Victorino's sacrifice off Ramon Ramirez. After Chase Utley was intentionally walked, Placido Polanco lined a single to centre. Oswalt ran through third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign and slid safely ahead of the relay throw to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead.

"That was comical," Rollins said. "Roy's got those stiff hips and he looked like he was cardboard running down the line but he got it done tonight."

Jeremy Affeldt came in and struck out Ryan Howard after a double steal. Jayson Werth was intentionally walked before Santiago Casilla entered to face Rollins.

The former NL MVP, dropped from lead-off to sixth in the batting order since the play-offs started, hit a drive off the right-centre field fence to put the Phillies up 6-1.

An appreciative crowd chanted "J-Roll! J-Roll!" with a smiling Rollins standing on second.

"I got a lot of faith in him," Charlie Manuel, the manager, said. "I know how much he wants to be up there."Oswalt did not allow a hit until Ross connected with one out in the fifth to tie the score 1-1. Ross ripped a 1-0 pitch into the left-centre field seats - nearly the same spot both of his homers off Roy Halladay landed in Game 1.

Acquired from Houston on July 29, Oswalt went 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 13 games with the Phillies. He was Philadelphia's best pitcher down the stretch. The three-time All-Star was 7-0 with a 1.17 ERA in his last 10 starts. Oswalt struggled against Cincinnati in Game 2 of the division series, but the Giants saw a different pitcher.

"He threw really great," Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, said. "He was on and he had his stuff."

NL Championship Series
Game 1: San Fran 4, Philadelphia 3
Game 2: Philadelphia 6, San Fran 1
Game 3: at San Fran, today
Game 4: at San Fran, tomorrow
Game 5: at San Fran, Thursday
Game 6: at Philadelphia, Saturday*
Game 7: at Philadelphia, Sunday*
* if necessary