Sixth proved fateful for the Phillies

Raul Ibanez retreated cautiously toward the left-field wall as
Pat Burrell’s long, high flyball descended menacingly out of the
hazy darkness.

An hour or so earlier, when a 25 m.p.h. wind was gusting through
Citizens Bank Park like the pregame energy of the soldout crowd for
the National League Championship Series opener, it might have
sailed over his head and into the jam-packed seats the way Cody’s
Ross two home runs had.

But now the wind was tamer and the
Phillies outfielder appeared to have
difficulty gauging just how far the ball might travel.

Ibanez got to the fence and leaped, even though it appeared he
didn’t need to. The ball settled briefly in his glove, but as the
outfielder’s momentum took him into the wall, it jarred loose.

“It hit off my glove,” said Ibanez.

The resulting double by Burrell scored Buster Posey from first
and turned a 2-1 Giants lead into a 3-1 edge. And when Juan Uribe
followed with a third consecutive two-out hit off Roy Halladay, the
irritated
Phillies ace, San Francisco had
handed Tim Lincecum a 4-1 advantage.

“I thought he hit it better than that,” Ibanez explained
afterward, when asked if the wind was a factor in the misplay. “And
I thought it was going to go up off the top of the wall. By the
time I jumped against the wall to get a little leverage and use the
wall to get a little height, the ball was a little lower than I
thought.”

As a result, so is the
Phillies confidence heading into
Sunday night’s Game 2, trailing 1-0 in a playoff series for the
first time since 2007.

That sequence, from a two-strike pitch to Burrell that Halladay
thought was a strike to Uribe’s RBI single, turned out to be the
pivotal stretch in the Giants’ 4-3 Game 1 win, the Phils first loss
in a postseason opener since that 2007 NL division series with
Colorado.

It began, as so many rallies do, innocently enough. After two
weak groundball outs by Freddy Sanchez and Aubrey Huff, Posey, whom
Halladay had fanned twice, punched a single into centerfield.

Burrell, who received a schizophrenic welcome from the sold-out
crowd – cheers during pregame introductions, boos at each at-bat –
fell behind Halladay 1-2.

Halladay’s next pitch looked like a strike, a fastball in the
vicinity of the Giant’s knees. Burrell’s shoulders sagged and the
Phils pitcher clearly thought he’d gotten his seventh
strikeout.

But home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins called it a ball.

“Yeah, I did [think it was a strike],” said Halladay, who was
flanked as he spoke by empty champagne bottles from earlier
Phillies’ victory celebrations.

Burrell, of course, didn’t see it that way.

“It was a ball,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t checked. . .
. When he started me off with a fastball, I believe, and I got
behind 0-2 again [I was] just really trying to get something to put
a good swing on, keep the inning going, that was kind of our plan
against him today, to keep the line moving.”

Cousins’ call briefly transformed Halladay into Cole Hamels,
circa 2009.

He stalked off the mound and barked at Cousins, his scowl
visible from the upper decks.

Burrell then bent and belted his next pitch, another low
fastball, to deep leftfield for his eighth postseason extra-base
hit.

“I might have gotten him with a different pitch there, looking
back,” said Halladay after his first postseason defeat.

As the ball eluded Ibanez, Halladay disappointingly scurried to
back up home.

Burrell, who has played considerable leftfield in this ballpark,
said he wasn’t sure where the ball would land.

“He made a heck of an effort to get back there and get his glove
on it,” Burrell said of the man who replaced him for the Phils.
“You never know in this park. You can hit some balls certain days
and they can go over the fence and some days they don’t.”

When Posey scampered past him for the Giants’ third run,
Halladay said something again to the umpire, who by this time was
obviously not one of his kissin’ Cousins.

Still upset, his ruddy face nearly the shade of his cap,
Halladay allowed Uribe’s run-scoring single.

“I don’t know if he thought he had him struck out or not,” said
Phils manager Charlie Manuel. “I thought the pitch was close.”

The three two-out hits proved even more significant when Jayson
Werth’s two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth, moved the Phils
to within, 4-3.

Ibanez couldn’t atone for his misplay at bat. He went 0-3 with a
walk and watched a third strike from Brian Wilson to start the
ninth inning.

“We definitely wanted to get off to a better start,” said
Ibanez. “It didn’t work out that way. We’ve just got to come back
and get after it again Contact staff writer Frank Fitzpatrick at
215-854-5068 or at ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com.