Lincecum’s brilliance can’t bring celebration to San Francisco


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NLCS Phillies Giants Baseball

San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum out-pitched Philadelphia’s Roy Halladay for the second time in the National League Championship Series on Thursday, but came away with a loss that sends the series east for Game 6 on Saturday.

The Giants lead 3-2 after failing to close it out with a win on Thursday.

One shaky inning from Lincecum, sparked by two mistakes on defense, helped Halladay pick up the win despite struggling with his command and being hit hard by the Giants in what turned out to be a 4-2 Philadelphia win at AT&T Park in San Francisco.

San Francisco left-hander Jonathan Sanchez will face Philadelphia right-hander Roy Oswalt in Game 6. Oswalt won with eight strong innings in Game 2, but picked up the loss in relief in the 10th inning in Game 4.

If the Giants can’t close out the Phillies Saturday, they will call on right-hander Matt Cain, who hasn’t allowed a run in two postseason starts, in Game 7.

Lincecum allowed three runs in the third inning. The uprising was fueled by the Giants’ failure to get the lead runner out on Halladay’s sacrifice bunt. It was a freak play that stemmed from a questionable call by the home plate umpire.

Catcher Buster Posey grabbed the bunt, which was ruled fair, as it bounced just behind home plate. A bunt has to be in front of the plate in order to be fair. Posey threw to third baseman Pablo Sandoval who, like Halladay, was caught flat-footed believing the bunt was foul. Sandoval caught the ball, but couldn’t find the base. The lead runner was safe. Sandoval threw Halladay, who hadn’t left the batter’s box, out at first base.

Lincecum induced a ground ball to first baseman Aubrey Huff. The ball bounced off Huff’s right wrist and into shallow center field, allowing two runs to score and tie the game 2-2. A single made it 3-2 before Lincecum got out of the inning.

“We’re inches away from getting a double play,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s a missed opportunity for us not getting the double play, and it came back to haunt us.”

The 26-year-old right-hander dominated the Phillies from that point to his departure for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning, still trailing 3-2. He, however, was disappointed to have failed to deliver a National League title celebration for hometown fans.

“Obviously we wanted to shut it down here in front of the home crowd,” Lincecum said. “You have to take advantage of the opportunities you get. Saturday’s another day.”

Lincecum’s 29 strikeouts in his first three postseason starts are tied with Sandy Koufax for the second-most — two behind Bob Gibson’s record.

Lincecum allowed four hits and two earned runs in seven strong innings. He fanned seven and walked just one. Halladay pitched six innings, yielding six hits and two bases on balls. He struck out six.

“Winning there or here, we just want to get that win,” Lincecum said. “Obviously going there and getting one out of two already was something we wanted to do. Now we have confidence we can go back and take one out of two again.”

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