Giants wave a magic Juan, walk off for 3-1 lead

Giants wave a magic Juan, walk off for 3-1 lead

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants' 6-5 triumph Wednesday night over the Phillies did what no slump, crisis or controversy has done to them in this charmed season: It divided them.

Seconds after Juan Uribe's sacrifice fly drove in Aubrey Huff with the winning run in the ninth inning, various groups of Giants launched divergent celebrations. Some surrounded Uribe. And Huff. And Buster Posey, who delivered one of the most glittering performances of his sparkling year to help San Francisco grab a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series with this Game 4 decision.

"I went to everybody," center fielder Andres Torres said. "I tried to hug everybody."

It was that kind of game for the Giants, who received contributions from almost all of the 17 players they used during the three-hour, 40-minute struggle before a thoroughly entertained sellout crowd at AT&T Park.


"Every victory's just as tasty but tonight's was really delicious," right-hander Brian Wilson said.

But the Giants didn't celebrate the fourth walk-off postseason victory in franchise history too enthusiastically. Needing one victory to capture the series and advance to the World Series against the American League champion, the Giants refused to take anything for granted.

"We have to try to win it as soon as possible," right-hander Sergio Romo said. "Those guys [the Phillies], they want it and they're going to give it their best as well. One win is kind of hard to get at times."

Striving to make their first postseason appearance since 2003 a most memorable one, the Giants will attempt to win only their fourth NL pennant since moving to San Francisco in 1958 by pitting ace right-hander Tim Lincecum against his Philadelphia counterpart, Roy Halladay, in Thursday's Game 5 at AT&T Park.

"I'm pretty excited he's got [the start]," Wilson said of Lincecum. "I'm looking forward to it."

History favors the Giants -- if not immediately, then eventually. Of the 30 previous teams to assume a 3-1 lead since the LCS went to a seven-game format in 1985, 24 have proceeded to the World Series.

They took a circuitous route toward gaining this advantage. San Francisco squandered leads of 2-0 and 5-4, the latter on eighth-inning doubles by Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth.

With the score still deadlocked, 5-5, the Giants were greeted with the rare sight of Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia's No. 2 postseason starter, making a relief appearance as they came to bat in the ninth.

"That's what winners do," Wilson said. "They ask for the ball."

Oswalt, who yielded one run and three hits in eight innings to pace Philadelphia to a Game 2 victory Sunday, wasn't as sharp this time. Huff singled with one out. Posey lashed his fourth hit of the evening, a single to right that moved Huff to third base.

Up came Uribe, who entered the game as part of a double-switch with Wilson in the top of the ninth and made a dazzling play on Ross Gload's smash to open the inning.

Uribe didn't start the game due to lingering soreness in his left wrist. As he later admitted, he struggled to catch up to Oswalt's fastball. But then Oswalt fed Uribe a 2-2 pitch he could handle.

"Cambio," Uribe said, employing the Spanish word for changeup. "Something low."

Uribe turned it into something high, a fly ball to medium-deep left field. Huff tagged up and scored easily, completing the Giants' rigorous yet satisfying effort.

It was satisfying for Posey, who ended his postseason drought of 27 at-bats without an RBI by singling in the first inning and doubling in the third, both with two outs off Phillies starter Joe Blanton, to drive in runs. Posey's output helped the Giants exceed four runs for the first time since they lost 10-9 in 10 innings on Sept. 25 at Colorado, a span of 14 games.

"I just tried to relax and keep everything simple," said Posey, who also made a deft short-hop pickup of center fielder Aaron Rowand's throw to tag out Carlos Ruiz in the fifth inning. "I tried to cut down a little bit of movement and just put the barrel on the ball."

It was satisfying for Pablo Sandoval, who doubled home two runs in the sixth inning to erase San Francisco's 4-3 deficit. Sandoval began that at-bat with a line drive down the right-field line that umpire Ted Barrett ruled foul, prompting an argument from Giants manager Bruce Bochy. It didn't matter, as Sandoval socked reliever Chad Durbin's 1-2 pitch into the left-center-field gap.

Sandoval related that he calmed himself after the double that wasn't.

"Count to 10. Breathe. Relax," he said, detailing his routine.

But Rowand emphasized that easing up too much would be a mistake against the Phillies, the two-time defending NL champions.

"You can't get ahead of yourself," Rowand said. "It can jump up and bite you at any time. They're capable of catching fire and doing things that a lot of other teams in baseball can't do and that's why they're here. So you can't take that for granted. When it's over, then you can relax."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.