Lincecum, Giants Top Phillies in Game One

The Phillies dropped Game One of the National League Championship Series to the San Francisco Giants behind an uncharacteristically human effort from ace right-hander Roy Halladay. Although Halladay did not walk any Giants hitters, he was around the middle of the plate too often and paid the price with two Cody Ross solo home runs, a Pat Burrell RBI double, and a Juan Uribe RBI single.

Both Halladay and Giants ace Tim Lincecum were battling the inconsistent strike zone of home plate umpire Derryl Cousins. Halladay responded with a few too many hittable pitches. He was not helped when Raul Ibanez failed to catch a Burrell fly ball against the left field wall in the top of the sixth inning, leading to the Giants’ third run. The pitch before, Halladay had walked off the mound thinking he had thrown a called strike three to end the inning, but Cousins stood motionless, beckoning the author of baseball’s second post-season no-hitter back to the mound, only to further expand his team’s deficit.

Lincecum was not as sharp as a two-time defending National League Cy Young award winner should be, but was able to get out of several situations where the Phillies threatened to score runs. The Phillies had the lead-off runner on in four of Lincecum’s seven innings but aside from the home runs, they never advanced a runner with a batted ball.

The Phillies’ offense was predicated on the home run, scoring their three runs on a solo shot by Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the third and a two-run shot by Jayson Werth in the sixth. Aside from that, the Phillies were inefficient manufacturing runs and hitting with runners in scoring position — an issue that noticeably plagued them throughout their championship run in 2008.

Both teams’ bullpens held serve, keeping the score 4-3 in their two respective innings of work. Ryan Madson pitched a clean top of the eighth inning, retiring all three batters he faced. In the bottom of the eighth, Giants left-hander Javier Lopez retired lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and Brian Wilson finished the inning by striking out Jimmy Rollins. Werth had reached base on a single to left-center and was running with a 3-2 count to Rollins, vastly increasing the Phillies’ odds to tie the game.

Brad Lidge kept the Phillies within one run with a scoreless ninth, escaping a bases-loaded one-out nail-biter. Wilson finished the job with three more outs in the bottom half of the ninth. Raul Ibanez, Ross Gload, and Shane Victorino each struck out in the ninth. Victorino had the benefit of pinch-runner Wilson Valdez — the pinch-runner for Ruiz, who was hit by a pitch — running on a 3-2 pitch, but was not able to make contact.

The Phillies drop the first game but have the opportunity to even the series tomorrow night before flying out to San Francisco for Game Three. Roy Oswalt will oppose Jonathan Sanchez.

Notes: Halladay allowed two home runs in one game to one batter for the first time since September 4 when Corey Hart of the Milwaukee Brewers accomplished the feat. … Halladay went 11 and one-third innings before allowing his first hit and run of his post-season career. … Halladay allowed his first hit since the eighth inning on September 27 against the Washington Nationals, and his first run since the seventh inning on September 21 against the Atlanta Braves. … The Phillies lost the first game of a post-season series for the first time since the 2007 NLDS against the Colorado Rockies.