Phillies fall to Giants in Game 1 of NLDS, 4-3

They cautioned against the blaring hype of a pitchers’ duel with

one steady warning.

You never know.

The players and managers of both the

Phillies and Giants said this

because they know. They know how hard it is for a pitcher – even

ones with the biological and mental qualities of Roy Halladay and

Tim Lincecum – to repeat the motion of throwing a baseball

approximately 100 times and expect precision when it leaves the

hand.

They also know this undeniable principle: It is impossible for a

pitcher to control every variable.

In the sixth inning of the

Phillies’ 4-3 loss to San Francisco

in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, Halladay

began his walk from the mound to the dugout after throwing a 90

m.p.h. cutter on the black to Pat Burrell with two outs.

Halladay executed his pitch. He thought it was a strike.

“Yeah, I did,” Halladay later said.

But home plate umpire Derryl Cousins did not agree. It was

close, Charlie Manuel said, this much is sure.

Burrell hit the next pitch for a run-scoring double off Raul

Ibanez’s glove to pad the Giants’ lead. Juan Uribe followed with an

RBI single. That was the game.

And that’s why you never know. The

Phillies lost a Game 1 for the first

time in eight series. The favorites to win a third consecutive

National League pennant suddenly face some measure of

adversity.

They lost with their ace and presumptive Cy Young Award winner

on the mound. Halladay, 10 days removed from throwing a no-hitter

in his postseason debut, was hittable. So was Lincecum, but he had

enough go right on this night.

In seven innings, Halladay allowed four runs on eight hits. He

retired the first seven batters he faced before Cody Ross, the 36th

hitter to challenge Halladay this postseason, had the first hit

against him. It was a solo home run, crushed deep into the

left-field stands.

You never know because no one would have predicted Ross – San

Francisco’s No. 8 hitter – to hit two home runs off Halladay. Ross,

the former Florida Marlin and noted

Phillies killer, was claimed off

waivers by the Giants at the end of August simply to block him from

the San Diego Padres.

That makes him – along with Burrell, who was also released

earlier this season -the unlikely Giants heroes of Game 1. At best,

Ross did enough to show the rest of the baseball world that,

indeed, Roy Halladay is human.

“It was a bit of a reality check,” closer Brad Lidge said.

“You’re always surprised when Roy gets hit. It’s once in a blue

moon.”

The Ross home runs bothered Halladay, but he was especially

perturbed in the sixth after Cousins did not grant the strike call

to Burrell as the pitcher expected. After Uribe’s single extended

the San Francisco lead (and provided what ultimately was the

deciding run), Halladay muttered some callous words to Cousins as

he passed the umpire.

It’s not that the

Phillies couldn’t muster quality

swings off Lincecum. Both Carlos Ruiz and Jayson Werth homered.

Chase Utley just missed one in the first inning. Twice, the

Phillies stranded runners in scoring

position.

“I think we need to hit better,” Manuel proclaimed.

Lincecum needed 30 pitches to finish the sixth. He batted in the

seventh and then set the

Phillies down in order on just 11

pitches.

As Shane Victorino struck out against the bearded San Francisco

closer Brian Wilson to end the game, he tapped his bat on the

ground. The Giants stormed out of the dugout to celebrate.

The

Phillies and their fans left the

stadium saddled with this deflating reality: Down an ace, they

trail a series.

“You find out,” Halladay said, “what you’re made of.”

Contact staff writer Matt Gelb at 215-854-2928 or

mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.