Giants, Lincecum unable to close out Phillies

Posted Oct. 21, 2010, at 11:30 p.m.
Last modified Oct. 22, 2010, at 7:54 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — One rough inning from Tim Lincecum proved to be just enough to prevent the San Francisco Giants from holding a pennant-clinching party on the shores of McCovey Cove.

Now the Giants need to take a cross-country flight and win in Philadelphia if they want to go to the World Series for the fourth time since moving West in 1958.

Lincecum allowed three runs in the third inning with help from an error by Aubrey Huff and the Giants lost Game 5 of the NL championship series 4-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.

“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.”

The Giants still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2, but wasted their first opportunity to clinch a postseason series at home since losing 1-0 to the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 1962 World Series.

They had no chance to recover from that loss, which haunts San Francisco nearly five decades later as the team still looks for its first World Series title in Northern California.

San Francisco will have two chances to recover from this defeat with Jonathan Sanchez set to start Game 6 against Roy Oswalt. Matt Cain, who hasn’t allowed a run in two postseason starts, waits in Game 7, if necessary.

The Giants were hoping to avoid another long flight East, preferring to rest up at home for the World Series opener next Wednesday. They already won once in Philadelphia this series, now they have to do it again.

“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.”

There was a celebratory atmosphere at the ballpark well before game time, with Giants fans hoping their shaggy-haired ace could close out the two-time defending NL champion Phillies.

Lincecum pitched like the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner he is in his first two postseason starts, shutting out Atlanta in Game 1 of the division series and beating fellow Cy Young winner Roy Halladay in the opener of this round.

He started fast once again, retiring his first six batters. He even had the lead after the Giants managed to get to Halladay for an early run.

But the bad third inning was enough to do spoil Lincecum’s night.

Raul Ibanez, back in the lineup after a night off, singled to stop an 0-for-15 slump and get the Phillies started. Lincecum then hit Carlos Ruiz with an 0-2 pitch — the record-tying fourth time Ruiz has been hit this postseason.

“To get ahead of a batter like that and give him a free base definitely hurts,” Lincecum said. “But you have to move on to the next batter.”

Halladay laid down a bunt that catcher Buster Posey picked up right near the plate. Posey threw to third, but Pablo Sandoval could not get back to the bag for the force. Halladay did not run, thinking it was a foul ball, and was easily thrown out at first.

“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.”

Shane Victorino followed with a hard grounder to first that hit off Huff’s glove and into shallow center field, scoring two runs. Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single that made it 3-1.

Chase Utley followed with a single and Lincecum retired the next 11 batters before running into a little more trouble in the seventh. He escaped that jam when pinch-hitter Ross Gload lined into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third on his final pitch of the night.

Lincecum allowed two earned runs and four hits. He struck out seven, including Ryan Howard three times.

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.

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