(Sports Network) – The San Francisco Giants once again try to lock down their first World Series appearance in eight years this evening when they play Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
The Giants wasted a golden opportunity to seal this series at home and capture the team’s fourth pennant since moving to San Francisco in 1958 with a loss in Game 5 on Thursday.
Now the set shifts back to Philadelphia, where the Phillies have an edge with Roy Oswalt and potentially Cole Hamels going for them, as the club continues its quest to become the National League’s first team to advance to three straight World Series since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals.
Up first for the Phils will be Oswalt, who lost Game 4 in relief, but held the Giants to just a run and three hits in eight innings last Sunday to get his first win of this postseason. He also fanned nine in the victory.
The loss out of the bullpen on Wednesday was Oswalt’s first in 11 career postseason appearances. He fell to 5-1 with a 3.58 ERA in nine playoff starts and two relief appearances and is 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA in the NLCS.
“Numbers, to me, [are] no big deal,” said Oswalt. "I didn’t want to get the loss for sure. But you never know what you’re going to get back here. So that’s one of the reasons I want to be in the game the other night. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to play. But may not get to this spot again. So I’m going to try to do everything possible to get to that final game. "
Oswalt is also 10-0 in 12 starts in Philadelphia, including two outings in these playoffs.
While Oswalt will be trying to get the Phillies to a seventh game, San Francisco will rely on left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to get them to the World Series for the first time since the team lost in seven games to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2002.
Sanchez has had a pretty decent track record against the Phillies, but was on the wrong end of the Game 2 loss to Oswalt, as he allowed three runs (two earned) and five hits and struck out seven in six innings last Sunday. Prior to that loss, though, he had been 3-1 lifetime against the Phillies with a 2.86 ERA in nine games (five starts).
“It’s been a pleasure to watch Johnny grow as a pitcher.” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of his Game 6 starter. “And we’ve always known that Johnny has the equipment to have success up here. And earlier he was his own worst enemy. But his growth as a pitcher this year has really been fun to watch.”
Philadelphia kept the Giants’ champagne on ice on Thursday, as Roy Halladay pitched through a groin pull and lasted six effective innings and the Phillies remained alive in the postseason with a 4-2 win.
The Phillies took advantage of a crucial error from Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff during a wild three-run third inning and Jayson Werth clubbed an insurance homer off Ramon Ramirez in the ninth to account for the scoring.
Halladay (2-1) won the Game 1 rematch with Tim Lincecum by allowing six hits and two runs, while walking two and fanning five batters. Brad Lidge retired the side in order in the ninth for his first save of this series.
After the game, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel disclosed Halladay suffered a mild right groin pull in the first two innings.
“He was determined he was going to stay in there,” Manuel said. “He wasn’t going to let us take him out.”
Lincecum (2-1), who helped the Giants to a 4-3 series-opening victory, was lifted after surrendering four hits and three runs — two earned — over seven frames. The two-time reigning NL Cy Young Award winner walked one batter and fanned seven.
However, even with the Phillies’ victory on Thursday, history is still on the side of the Giants. This is the 17th time that an NLCS stands at 3-2 since the series became a best-of-seven in 1985. Eleven of the prior 16 series were won by the team that led after five games, but half of those series went the full seven games.
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.