Phillies-Giants Preview

The Philadelphia Phillies have shown this weekend in San

Francisco why they have the best starting pitching in the majors.

The Giants’ continued struggles at the plate might also be a reason

for the visitors’ dominance.

Roy Oswalt looks to continue that success when he returns from

the disabled list Sunday trying to help the Phillies to a 10th

straight win and a four-game sweep of Tim Lincecum and the

Giants.

Complete games from Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels sandwiched around

a solid seven-inning effort from rookie Vance Worley have left

Philadelphia (74-39) in position to sweep a series of at least

three games in San Francisco for the first time since May 18-20,

1984.

“We know how good the Giants can be but at the same time if we

play the way we’re capable of playing and stay relaxed and focused

… that works for us,” said manager Charlie Manuel, whose starters

lead the majors in ERA (2.95) as well as strikeouts and

innings.

In the midst of their longest winning stretch since an 11-game

run Sept. 12-24, the Phillies have outscored the Giants 14-3 to

avenge dropping two of three at home last week to the reigning

World Series champions, who beat them in the NL championship series

last year.

Though the Giants (62-52) remain a serious postseason contender,

they have dropped eight of nine and are hitless in 17 at-bats with

runners in scoring position in the series. They have averaged a

major league-low 3.0 runs since the All-Star break and have scored

two or fewer 12 times while losing 11 of 16.

“You don’t win the World Series unless you can beat good

pitching. Right now we’re not doing that,” manager Bruce Bochy

said. “You have to figure out a way to win these games.”

After managing seven hits off Hamels in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat,

the Giants face Oswalt (4-6, 3.79 ERA) in his first outing since

June 23 at St. Louis, where he left after two innings with lower

back inflammation.

Though the right-hander could be rusty, Oswalt might be

confident after going 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA in three starts against

the Giants since coming to Philadelphia at last year’s trade

deadline. That includes the NLCS when he gave up two earned runs in

14 innings while going 1-0 in two starts.

“The thing about baseball is that you never know what’s going to

happen until you get out there,” Oswalt told the Phillies’ official

website.

Lincecum (9-9, 2.77) allowed three hits in six scoreless innings

in a 4-1 win July 28 to improve to 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA in his last

five regular-season starts against the Phillies. He was 1-1 with a

3.14 ERA against them in the NLCS.

Though he is one loss away from matching a career high set last

season, Lincecum has a 1.74 ERA in his last nine starts but has

gone 4-4 greatly because the Giants have only scored 16 runs for

him. After he yielded no more than one run in four consecutive

starts, the only runs Lincecum allowed in seven innings Tuesday

were on a two-run homer and he surrendered only two other hits in a

6-1 loss to Arizona.

Though Philadelphia’s Hunter Pence is 3 for 22 with eight

strikeouts against Lincecum, he’s batting .382 with seven RBIs in

eight games since being acquired from Houston on July 29.

Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 with a homer Saturday to raise his

average to .313, and he’s the only Giants player above .290.