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10/19/10 3:06 PM ET
Game 4 math is simple for Phillies, Giants
By Barry M. Bloom / MLB.com
The Phillies don't find themselves in a good place heading into Wednesday's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series at AT&T Park down 2-1 to the Giants. In contrast, the Giants must be lovin' it. Since the NLCS went to a best-of-seven format in 1985, the team leading 2-1 has gone on to win the series 15 out of 19 times. In the ALCS, it's 15 out of 20 times. Those numbers don't get any prettier if a team goes down 3-1, so the Phillies can ill afford to do that. They'll have right-hander Joe Blanton on the mound against Giants rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner as the aces of each staff take a one-game break. "It's a 2-1 lead, that's what it is," manager Bruce Bochy said after his Giants took Game 3 on Tuesday, 3-0, behind Matt Cain and two relievers. "We have a lot of baseball left. We're playing a great team and we've got to play our best ball. We're going to win. We know it. But there's a lot of work to be done." Charlie Manuel, your perspective? "I would say [Wednesday's] game is the biggest game we've played so far," the Phillies manager said. "[Tuesday's] game was the biggest game, but tomorrow becomes bigger. That's how I look at it." The Phillies were a team the last two years that took advantage of the math. Leading the Dodgers 2-1 in the NLCS, the Phillies won the final two games and dispatched the Dodgers in five both times. Let's not talk about last year's World Series, though. The Yankees went up 3-1 and defeated the Phillies in six games.The last NL team to win after being down 2-1 was the 2003 Marlins, who actually rebounded from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Cubs. In the AL? It was the 2007 Red Sox, who were down 2-1 and as much as 3-1 in the ALCS to the Indians. The Giants have to be heartened by the fact that they have already defeated two of Philadelphia's top pitchers -- Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels -- in the first three games, losing only to Roy Oswalt in Game 2. The Phillies must be heartened because they'll have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels to go up against Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez and Cain if the series comes down to the last three games. After all, the Phils have held the Reds and Giants to a .154 batting average. But Hamels had a suggestion after picking up Tuesday's loss if the Phillies hope to come back and win. "Our offense has got to turn it up a notch," said Hamels about a Phillies team that's hitting .194 in the series, .221 in the postseason, and had three hits on Tuesday. "Unfortunately, to win a few games you have to score some runs." But the Phillies feel like they've been there before. This is their ninth series in the past three postseasons. They've won six of them. "You take it one game at a time, and [on Tuesday] it didn't work out the way we wanted it to," Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. "[Wednesday] is a new day. You try to find the positives and go from there. We have a pretty good team, so we're not going to back down and feel sorry for ourselves. We're going to continue to fight." For the Giants, who are in the postseason for the first time since 2003, this is new ground even for the more grizzled veteran. "It's been awesome," said Cody Ross, a Giants newcomer, who helped win another game this postseason on Tuesday with his fourth-inning single. "It's been like nothing I've ever experienced. It's been an unbelievable ride, and hopefully it will keep going. We've got a lot of business to take care of still. [The Phillies are] one of the best teams in the league. We've got to keep that momentum going and not let up, because those guys will come back and bite you if you don't."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.