PHILADELPHIA -- A single victory had singular meaning for the Giants, who outlasted the Philadelphia Phillies, 4-3, in Saturday night's National League Championship Series opener.
The Giants ignored their status as heavy underdogs against the Phillies, who are widely considered the class of the NL and are striving to become the league's first team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to win three consecutive pennants.
Fueled by two homers from Cody Ross and resolute pitching by Tim Lincecum, Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson, the outcome dented the Phillies' invincibility by ending their seven-game winning streak in postseason openers.
San Francisco defeated the Phillies' uber-ace, Roy Halladay, who pitched a historic Division Series no-hitter against Cincinnati in his previous start and led the NL with 21 victories.
The Giants extended their winning streak in postseason-series openers to seven, dating back to 2000. The triumph was an especially promising omen for the Giants, considering that the Game 1 winner in the NLCS has proceeded to the World Series in 15 of the previous 18 years.
"Very, very important," Wilson said of the victory. "It puts a little more momentum on our side to be able to come in [against] a powerhouse team, on the road, and do what we did tonight."
Giants with multiple home runs in a postseason game
In accomplishing all this, San Francisco reinforced its still-developing postseason persona.
The Giants secured yet another one-run decision -- the margin in all four games of their Division Series triumph over Atlanta.
"That's the way we do it, right?" Lincecum said. "More 'torture' in the postseason. ... I think we've been catching people's attention for a while now because we're fighters. We're not banging it out for nine runs every game. We're scratching out those one-run [wins] in heartfelt games."
Ross sustained his Division Series productivity by homering in each of his first two at-bats to stoke the Giants' confidence. The first homer opened the scoring in the third inning; the second broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth. He joined exclusive company, as Milwaukee's Corey Hart was the only player to homer twice in a game off Halladay during the regular season.
Ross is just the fourth player to hit two home runs in the opening game of the NLCS. Steve Garvey (1978 for the Dodgers), Gary Matthews (1984, Cubs) and Will Clark (1989, Giants) are the others. Ross also became the first Giant to achieve a multiple-homer effort in the postseason since Jeff Kent went deep twice in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series against the Angels.
Off on the right foot
Most consecutive Game 1 victories in postseason history
* -- extended Saturday
** -- ended Saturday
"For us to get on the board first, it was great," said left fielder Pat Burrell. "You can't say enough about that as far as playing in this environment and quieting the crowd down a little bit."
The Giants displayed their characteristic pluck by rousing themselves with two outs and nobody on base against Halladay to score twice in the sixth inning and lengthen their lead to 4-1.
After Buster Posey's single prolonged the sixth, Halladay thought he had Burrell struck out on an 0-2 pitch -- the right-hander started to stride off the mound -- but umpire Derryl Cousins called it a ball. Burrell capitalized by doubling off the glove of left fielder Raul Ibanez, who appeared to have a shot at making the catch but missed a leaping attempt at the wall. Running freely with two outs, Posey scored. So did pinch-runner Nate Schierholtz when Juan Uribe singled up the middle.
The Giants needed those runs to offset Jayson Werth's two-run homer in the Phillies' half of the sixth.
Though his anticipated low-scoring showdown against Halladay didn't materialize, Lincecum gained his second postseason victory in as many starts, allowing all of Philadelphia's runs and six hits while striking out eight in seven innings. He stranded five Phillies baserunners, including three in scoring position.
Freak fabulous once again
Tim Lincecum's stats from his Game 1 NLDS shutout vs. the Braves on Oct. 7 and Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday
Lincecum couldn't match the two-hit, 14-strikeout gem he fashioned against Atlanta on Oct. 7, but he received ample help from the bullpen. Lopez sustained his wizardry as a lefty specialist by retiring Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to start the eighth. That left four outs for Wilson, who recorded each of them with a strikeout while surviving Werth's two-out single in the eighth and Carlos Ruiz's hit-by-pitch with one out in the ninth.
Wilson ended the game in typically nerve-racking but effective fashion by fanning Shane Victorino after falling behind 3-0. If anything, the escape bolstered the Giants' faith even more.
"We're a team with a lot of confidence," Lincecum said. "A lot of swagger."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.