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Preview: Phillies Turn to Oswalt to Tie NLCS

(Sports Network) – The San Francisco Giants will try to head back to the Bay Area with a two games to none lead in the National League Championship Series, as they play Game 2 of the best-of-seven set against the Philadelphia Phillies this evening at Citizens Bank Park.

The Giants captured Game 1 of this series on Saturday with the help of Cody Ross, who belted a pair of solo homers off Roy Halladay. Tim Lincecum pitched seven innings and San Francisco captured a 4-3 win.

“I can’t explain it with my words,” said Ross. “I mean, it’s just awesome to be in this situation right now, to be able to come here and help this team and get where we wanted to be. I just can’t express it.”

Former Phillie Pat Burrell doubled in a run in the sixth and Juan Uribe added an RBI single later in the frame, as the Giants matched a National League record by extending their winning streak in postseason-series openers to seven, dating back to 2000.

Coincidentally, one of the two teams San Francisco tied for that record was Philadelphia, which dropped a postseason series opener for the first time since the Rockies swept it in the 2007 NLDS.

Lincecum (2-0) followed up a brilliant effort in the NLDS with a solid outing on Saturday, allowing six hits and three runs with eight strikeouts in the matchup of former Cy Young Award winners.

Brian Wilson recorded the final four outs – all on strikeouts – to earn his third save of these playoffs.

Halladay (1-1), coming off his no-hitter in the opener of a sweep against Cincinnati, yielded eight hits and all four runs while fanning seven without issuing a walk.

“I don’t think we can do nothing to bring this game back tonight,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “It’s a loss. So we come out tomorrow, and we come out and play in that moment, try to win that game. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

Carlos Ruiz belted a solo home run and Jayson Werth clubbed a two-run shot for the Phillies, who lost for the first time this postseason.

“It wasn’t about the numbers, it was about giving us a chance to win,” said Lincecum. “I put those home runs behind me. You could easily squash yourself on that and make some more bad pitches. I was just taking it on to the next batter.”

Philadelphia, of course, is vying to become the first NL team to reach the World Series in three straight years since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals. That could be in jeopardy, though, as 15 of the last 18 winners in Game 1 of the NLCS have advanced to the World Series.

Plus, the Phillies have never won a postseason series in which they lost Game 1.

It does not get any easier for the two-time defending National League champions this evening, as they face left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who has already beaten them twice this season.

Sanchez, who was moved up to start this game ahead of Matt Cain, followed up a terrific start to get the Giants into the postseason with an even better effort last Sunday in NLDS Game 3 against the Braves. Sanchez limited Atlanta to a run and two hits in 7 1/3 innings, but did not get a decision.

He is 3-1 lifetime against the Phillies with a 2.86 ERA in nine games, five of which have been starts. He’s also held them to a .175 average with just one home run. In two starts in Philadelphia Sanchez is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA.

“This guy’s got good stuff,” Manuel said. “We’ve got to make him bring the ball up. We’ve got to get balls to hit and see if we can’t put some balls in play and score some runs on him.”

Philadelphia, meanwhile, will turn to right-hander Roy Oswalt, who tries to bounce back from a poor showing in his NLDS start against the Reds. Oswalt gave up four runs — three earned — and five hits in five innings against Cincinnati, but was bailed out by the Reds’ poor defense and escaped without a decision.

“As long as we win games, numbers to me are not a big thing,” said Oswalt. “I want to do well, but we won three in a row, so it doesn’t really matter.”

Oswalt, though, has a losing record against the Giants, going 6-8 with a 3.61 ERA. But for his career, he is still unbeaten in at Citizens Bank Park, posting a 9-0 mark in 11 starts there including his last outing.

“Let me tell you something guys, they’re human,” Manuel said of his starting staff. “I mean, they’re going to give up some runs some time. If they don’t, we’re going to be looking really good. Like I said before, I was joking about how long I wanted to manage. But if they don’t give up no runs, it’s hard to tell when I might — how long I might stay here.”

The Phillies split their six matchups with the Giants this season and since the start of the 2000 campaign, the teams are 36-36 against one another in the regular season.

Despite both teams being original NL franchises, this is the first-ever postseason matchup between the two.