Uribe dazzles with glove before playing hero
Nursing wrist injury, shortstop enters in ninth to sway Game 4
SAN FRANCISCO -- Juan Uribe swung, connected and, using his left wrist, flipped his bat and raised his arm.All of a sudden, the bruised left wrist that kept Uribe out of the starting lineup wasn't in any pain. Uribe entered Game 4 of the National League Championship Series in the top of the ninth inning as a defensive replacement, made a key play in the field and hit a game-winning, walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth to give the Giants a 6-5 win over the Phillies on Wednesday night at AT&T Park, putting San Francisco one win away from the World Series. "It seems like he's always in the right situation at the right time," said Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff, who scored the game-winning run. "His goal was to put the ball in play somehow, some way, and he was able to get the ball out there deep enough."
Uribe didn't start Game 4 due to the bruised left wrist he suffered while sliding into second base in Game 1. After sitting out the second game, Uribe gave it a go in Tuesday's Game 3, but admitted to Giants manager Bruce Bochy afterward that he wasn't quite 100 percent.After Uribe took batting practice Wednesday and said his wrist felt better, Bochy kept tabs on the shortstop throughout the game. Uribe admitted afterward that his wrist was a bit sore while he was at the plate, but the 31-year-old veteran blocked out the pain and tried to put a good swing on the ball. "It hurt, but when I hit I didn't want to think about it being hurt; I wanted to focus on my swing," Uribe said. "Before the swing I wasn't thinking, 'Oh, easy swing now.' I was thinking, 'Swing like normal.'" Prior to the top of the ninth, Uribe entered as part of a double-switch with Giants closer Brian Wilson. Uribe, coming in off the bench cold, was tested right away with a hard grounder off the bat of Ross Gload that Uribe had to backpedal to get. Uribe made the throw while falling backward and was able to nab Gload at first base for the inning's first out. "That was an awesome play," Huff said. "I didn't think there was any chance he was going to throw it. He made a strong throw, and it was pretty accurate." In the bottom of the inning, Huff began the game-winning rally with a one-out single before advancing to third on a single by Buster Posey.
Up stepped Uribe and, with the count at 1-1, a fastball by Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt came in on the shortstop, who claimed he was hit by the pitch. Home-plate umpire Wally Bell called it a foul ball, momentarily bringing Bochy out for a quick argument to no avail. Two pitches later, Uribe hit Oswalt's 1-2 changeup just deep enough into left field to bring Huff home.
"I felt comfortable putting Juan out there," Bochy said. "We had the right guy at the plate there, and he's come through so many times for us and got a ball he could handle to get deep enough in the outfield."It was no surprise that Uribe, who ranked second on the team during the regular season in home runs (24) and RBIs (85), answered in a key situation. Eleven of his 24 home runs this season either tied the game or gave the Giants the lead. "He's a machine," Wilson said. "That's what happens to good guys. You find yourself in a situation to come up big and you do it. That's what the postseason's all about." Although the Giants would prefer to have Uribe at full health, it certainly doesn't hurt having a player of his caliber available in situations such as Wednesday's. "I don't think a guy's changed a game coming in in the ninth as he did in a long time," Huff said. "Definitely a nice weapon off the bench."
Cash Kruth is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.