PHILADELPHIA -- Given a chance to take control of the National League Championship Series, the Giants responded with a performance that suited March more than October.
Sloppy defense and subpar hitting sank the Giants in Sunday night's 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies that evened the best-of-seven NLCS at one game apiece. The outcome left the Giants vaguely dissatisfied in the wake of their stirring Game 1 triumph.
"You come into a place like this, when you first start the series, your goal is to go 1-1," first baseman Aubrey Huff said. "But when you get that first one, you want to come out and get this one."
The deadlock sets up what promises to be three intensely competitive games at San Francisco's AT&T Park beginning Tuesday.
Aside from Cody Ross, who homered for the third postseason game in a row, the Giants must improve upon the Spring Training-level effort they delivered at Citizens Bank Park to turn the series back in their favor.
Third baseman Mike Fontenot committed a first-inning throwing error that generated an unearned run, then let Jimmy Rollins' fourth-inning popup fall safely. Huff made what he admitted was a poor judgment by cutting off center fielder Andres Torres' seventh-inning throw home, which might have nailed Roy Oswalt at home plate.
San Francisco mustered three hits in eight innings off Oswalt, who lost to the Giants and Tim Lincecum three times during the regular season while pitching for Houston. The Giants finished with four hits, matching their lowest total in 23 NLCS games.
"It wasn't a pretty game for us, all-around. Defensively, offensively, everything," Ross said. "This is one when we came off the field in the ninth [and] you walk up those [dugout] stairs, you have to forget about."
Actually, manager Bruce Bochy will keep this game very much in mind when he discusses possible lineup changes with his braintrust. With left-hander Cole Hamels due to start Game 3 for Philadelphia, the Giants might insert right-handed-batting Aaron Rowand in center field for the struggling Torres. San Francisco's leadoff batter struck out four times against Oswalt to drop his postseason batting average to .120 (3-for-25). Fontenot, who has started four consecutive games at third base, is unlikely to return.
"You'll see a couple of changes," said Bochy, whose decision-making process might be influenced by the availability of shortstop Juan Uribe, a late scratch from Sunday's lineup with an injured left wrist.
Torres vowed that he'll readily accept whatever his fate might be.
"I'm going to be ready, no matter what happens, and root for my teammates," he said.
A look at the Giants' run of seven consecutive one-run games in the playoffs
This was the Giants' first postseason game decided by more than one run since Game 2 of the 2003 NL Division Series, snapping a streak of seven one-run decisions. It was a taut 2-1 contest until the seventh inning, when Rollins' bases-loaded double highlighted Philadelphia's four-run outburst.
Jonathan Sanchez absorbed the decision for the Giants, though he often displayed his typically dazzling array of pitches while lasting one batter into the seventh inning. Sanchez struck out seven, surrendered five hits and walked three -- all in the first inning. Those free passes, combined with Fontenot's wide throw that pulled Huff off the bag, enabled Philadelphia to open the scoring.
"The ball just tailed on me," Fontenot said.
And it just so happens that the only team in the Major Leagues that owned a better record than the Giants when scoring first during the regular season was the Phillies (64-13).
Ross received chin music from Oswalt in the form of a high, inside fastball during his first at-bat. If that was supposed to intimidate Ross, it didn't. With one out in the fifth, he drove Oswalt's 1-0 pitch into roughly the same left-field area where he deposited his pair of Saturday night homers. It marked the third consecutive game in which Ross homered to break up a no-hitter.
"That's the type of pitcher that he is," Ross said of the calling card Oswalt delivered in the general direction of his head. "I don't think he was doing it on purpose. I didn't take it personally or anything. I'm trying to get in there and dig in. After that happens, the last thing you want to do is be tentative and start backing off. You actually want to get in there even more. That's what I was trying to do."
Cody climbing the charts
Most home runs in one postseason in Giants history
Ross became the fourth player in Giants history to amass at least four homers in a single postseason. Barry Bonds and Rich Aurilia hit eight and six in 2002, respectively, and Jeffrey Leonard totaled four in 1987.
"He's been amazing," Huff said of Ross. "The way he's been swinging, obviously he's carried this team the whole postseason, to be honest with you. He's getting the pitches to hit that we're all kind of getting. We're fouling them off; he's hitting them."
The tie dissolved in the Phillies' half of the fifth. Shane Victorino doubled past third base, hustled to third on Chase Utley's fly to right and scored on Placido Polanco's sacrifice fly.
Ross nearly forged another tie in his next at-bat, driving Oswalt's 1-0 slider to deep left-center field. But that happens to be a recessed portion of the outfield, so Victorino had an easy play. Had Ross pulled the ball several feet, he might have had another homer or at least an extra-base hit off the wall.
"When I'm seeing the ball well, good things happen," Ross said. "I'm just trying to get something going for the team. Tonight wasn't enough."
But the Phillies' seventh-inning uprising sufficed for them. Sanchez disappeared after yielding Oswalt's leadoff single. Facing Ramon Ramirez, Victorino sacrificed Oswalt to second base before Utley drew an intentional walk. Polanco's single scored Oswalt, who ignored third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign and slid home as Huff caught Torres' throw instead of allowing it to bypass him.
"I made a bad decision there on the cutoff," Huff said. "As I'm getting by the mound, I glanced at the third-base coach and he had his hands up. So I cut it off. ... The throw was on the money, it nails him. I have to let it go."
Relieving Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt struck out Howard and intentionally walked Werth to load the bases. Santiago Casilla confronted Rollins, who smashed a 2-0 pitch off the right-field wall.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.