Kawakami:

PHILADELPHIA — Cody Ross: The accidental legend continues.

Actually, the tale of Ross’s October journey with the
Giants is now moving beyond legend
and toward the stuff of playoff myth and magic.

And, maybe, destiny.

Only weeks ago, the 29-year-old journeyman outfielder was an
afterthought. Now, Ross is the most important, most dangerous and
most electrifying player in the universe.

He’s “Babe Ross,” as
Giants radio voice Duane Kuiper said
Saturday night.

Of course, Ross wasn’t the only significant contributor in the
Giants’ 4-3 Game 1 victory against
the heavily-favored Philadelphia Phillies here.

But, echoing his heroics in the
Giants’ first-round victory over
Atlanta, once again on Saturday, Ross was the man who met the
moment.

“It’s been an unbelievable experience for me,” Ross said
afterward, sounding like he really was struggling to believe
it.

First, Ross rocked Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay with a stunning
solo home run in the third inning — after Halladay had retired the
first seven
Giants in order.

That blast, said left-fielder Pat Burrell, proved that the
Giants could get to the pitcher who
threw a no-hitter in his last appearance.

“It was huge for us,” Burrell said. “We just needed to go out
there and put something on the board.

“And more than anything, just to kind of calm down our offense,
because when you look at the last start (Halladay) had, there
wasn’t a whole lot to hit for those guys.”

And, after the Phillies tied it 1-1 on
Giants starter Tim Lincecum, Ross
wandered back to the plate in the fifth inning and hit another
homer off Halladay, putting the
Giants ahead to stay.

Both times, Ross turned on a cut fastball that moved to the
inner half of the plate, and whipped it into the left-field
seats.

All this from someone the
Giants acquired in August only
after the Florida Marlins released him. And the
Giants only claimed Ross in order
to block him from going to their division-rival San Diego
Padres.

He came to the team when it already had Jose Guillen as their
full-time right fielder. But, since then, Guillen has faded away
and Ross, who grew up wanting to be a rodeo clown, has grabbed the
right-field job.

“You look at this team and we do have some characters here,”
manager Bruce Bochy said. “I compare them to the ‘Dirty Dozen.’
That’s the way they play. “… When you’re talking about Cody Ross,
here’s a guy that wanted to be a rodeo clown, and that’s a tough
job.”

It was Ross who drove in the only run in Game 1 of the previous
series against Atlanta, and it was Ross who broke up a no-hitter
with a homer and then drove in the game-winner in the
series-clinching Game 4.

Now he has almost single-handedly wrecked a Halladay start for
the Phillies, and helped put the
Giants up 1-0 in this series.

“It’s not a surprise,” Bochy said. “I mean, we got him for a
reason. He’s coming through big-time for us.”

After Ross’ first homer, a hush fell over Citizens Bank Park, as
if something bizarre had just occurred. After the second homer, the
Philadelphia crowd just seemed dazed. How was it possible that the
Giants’ No. 8 hitter was stomping
one of the game’s greatest pitchers?

Did they even know who he was?

“I just try to take pride in going up there every single at-bat
and try to get something going for my team,” Ross, working for his
fifth team in a major league career that began in 2002, said.
“Anything that you can do to spark your club and to get the
emotions rolling.

“I’m not going up there every single at-bat trying to hit a home
run to break up a no-hitter or try to get a hit off Halladay. But
I’ll take it and we’ll move on tomorrow.”

In the postgame discussions, the
Giants could only smile and repeat
that they realize something very special is happening here.

The Phillies are the team with the former NL MVPs and
back-to-back trips to the World Series.

Meanwhile the
Giants have great pitchers “… and
castoffs like Ross and Burrell, who hit a key run-scoring double in
the sixth.

But now it’s the Phillies who have just lost at home, who are
hearing loud questions about their clutch hitting, and who are
staring at the possibility of going down 0-2 today.

And it’s Ross–the accidental playoff superstar–who is the
dominant presence in the NL playoffs, riding the surge of his own
hitting, and, possibly, the waves of destiny, too.

Read Tim Kawakami’s Talking Points blog at
blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami . Contact him at
tkawakami@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5442.