(Sports Network) – Madison Bumgarner hopes to pitch San Francisco to the cusp of a National League pennant this evening when the Giants play Game 4 of the NLCS against the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park.
The Giants wrestled control of the set on Tuesday, as Matt Cain turned in seven scoreless innings and Cody Ross drove in a run, helping San Francisco to a 3-0 win. Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff also knocked in a run each for the Giants, who have taken a two games to one series edge.
Cain (1-0) allowed just two hits while striking out five and walking three during his outing, his first career victory over the two-time defending National League Champions.
“(I was) just trying to focus on making my pitches and getting in the pitching counts where I’m ahead and trying to make them a little more defensive,” Cain said when asked about his mindset for the start. “That was my goal today. And that’s what we just kept trying to do from the start to the end.”
Aaron Rowand, a Phillies outfielder from 2006-07, finished with a double and scored a run for San Francisco, which hasn’t advanced to the World Series since falling to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2002.
Cole Hamels (1-1) worked six innings, charged with five hits and three runs while fanning eight and walking one for the Phillies, who last faced a 2-1 series deficit in the 2009 World Series.
Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz collected the only hits for Philadelphia, which last suffered a postseason shutout in a 5-0 loss during Game 5 of the 1983 World Series against Baltimore.
“I’d say tomorrow’s the biggest game we’ve played so far. Today was pretty big but now tomorrow’s gonna be bigger,” noted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel about the possibility the series will either be tied or be 3-1 for the Giants late Wednesday.
The Phillies, of course, are trying to become the first National League team to advance to three straight World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.
Bumgarner will try to put a damper on those hopes tonight when he goes after his second win of this postseason. Bumgarner pitched the Giants into the NLCS with a Game 4 win in the NLDS over the Atlanta Braves, as he allowed two runs and six hits in six innings of that one.
“I saw a kid that went out there and competed very well,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He had good stuff and was throwing hard. I’ve said this so many times about him since we brought him up here: For a 21-year-old kid, I just love the way he carries himself. He handles himself out on the mound, keeps his poise and competes very well. But he has good stuff to go with it and did a great job in that game.”
The 10th overall pick by the Giants in the 2007 draft, Bumgarner was 7-6 in his rookie campaign, while pitching to a 3.00 ERA. However, he pitched to a 1.18 ERA in his final six regular season starts.
“I’ll just try to throw strikes and get ahead of guys,” he said about his game plan for Game 4. “I’m just going to go out there and try to throw quality pitches each time and see how it goes.”
Philadelphia, meanwhile, will hand the ball to righty Joe Blanton, who will make his first start in these playoffs. There was some thought that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel would opt to go back to Roy Halladay on short rest, but the NL Cy Young candidate will pitch as scheduled on Thursday.
“If you move one up, you’ve got to move all three up,” Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee said. “If you move one up and then you pitch Joe, well then you’re pitching him anyway. We think Joe is very capable. Don’t slight this guy. This guy has pitched us some good baseball for us in the second half. And he’s pitched well in San Francisco.”
Blanton was 9-6 with a 4.82 ERA, but was 6-0 with a 3.24 ERA in his final 13 starts.
He has also pitched to a 3.57 ERA in three starts in San Francisco.
“He has pitched good against San Francisco,” Manuel said. “He’s very capable of pitching real good. He hasn’t pitched for quite a while — that’s the only thing.”
Blanton, who hasn’t pitched since October 3 and hasn’t started a game since September 29, is 2-0 in eight postseason games (five starts) with a 3.89 ERA.
“There’s not going to be any change,” Blanton said. “If you’re down 2-1 it’s almost like a must win.”
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.