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.