SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The San Francisco Giants keep showing that building a loaded, All-Star lineup isn’t the only way to make a deep October run.
The second-chance players and homegrown talent can pay big dividends this time of year, too.
A club of castoffs and postseason newcomers is now just one win away from the World Series.
Juan Uribe, sore left wrist and all, hit a sacrifice fly off Roy Oswalt with one out in the ninth inning Wednesday night, sending the Giants past the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5 for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.
“We’ve got some characters on this club,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “In my mind, they’re like the Dirty Dozen, the castoffs and the misfits.”
Boosted by yet another big hit from late-season pickup Cody Ross, four hits and two RBIs from rookie Buster Posey and a timely double from struggling Pablo Sandoval, the Giants pushed the two-time defending NL champion Phillies to the brink of elimination.
Philadelphia will send Roy Halladay to the mound against Tim Lincecum in Game 5 on Thursday night. It’s a rematch of aces that Lincecum won in the opener.
“Two of the best arms in the game,” Posey said. “We’re in a good position. But at the same time, we know anything can happen in baseball.”
A champion with the White Sox in 2005, Uribe made his mark on this NLCS in a matter of moments — a great play with his glove, then one swing to win it.
Aubrey Huff singled with one out in the ninth and took third when Posey singled for his fourth hit of the game. Uribe hit a medium-deep fly, leaving left fielder Ben Francisco with no chance to get the sliding Huff with his throw.
Going to Oswalt — slated to start Game 6, if it’s necessary — to begin the ninth backed up manager Charlie Manuel’s words that this was his club’s biggest game yet this year. Now, it will be Thursday.
“We know what is at stake, but the game is the same. We have an opportunity to win a game tomorrow,” Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said.
Oswalt is one of the majors’ top starters and beat the Giants in Game 2. He has made only a few relief appearances in the last several years, including in the 2004 NLCS for Houston.
“We faced him a couple nights ago,” Posey said. “He’s got great stuff, just battling.”
Uribe entered at shortstop in the top of the ninth. He immediately picked up a hard one-hopper by pinch-hitter Ross Gload in the hole and made a strong throw while falling away for the out.
That started a perfect ninth for winning pitcher Brian Wilson, the major league saves leader.
“I got butterflies,” Wilson said. “I got anxiety. I got a mini-ulcer developing, but it’s all worth it. We never lost focus.”
After Freddy Sanchez lined out to right to start the bottom of the ninth, Huff and Posey singled. Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth made a nice sliding stop on the warning track to keep Huff from scoring.
Then came Uribe, a quiet 1 for 7 in this NLCS before Game 4. On a 1-1 pitch, he claimed he got hit in the hand by Oswalt’s fastball, but umpire Wally Bell said it was a foul.
Uribe wound up with the game-winner moments later, leaving the Giants just one victory shy of reaching the World Series for the first time in eight years.
Sandoval came jumping out of the dugout as Uribe’s ball was in the air. Giants players streamed out of the dugout and mobbed Uribe after he rounded first base. Huff and Posey exchanged high-fives near the mound and Sandoval and Sanchez hugged.
“It seems like all the baseball talk is all East Coast,” Huff said. “Everybody watching tonight saw exactly how we’ve played all year.”
Manuel stuck with Joe Blanton rather than going to Halladay on short rest. Blanton hung tough in his first start in three weeks but was done after allowing Huff’s two-out single in the fifth.
Ross produced again for the Giants. He hit a go-ahead single Tuesday after connecting for three home runs in the two games at Philadelphia. After Cole Hamels joked about hitting Ross as a way to slow him down, Blanton did just that to start the second. Not that it was on purpose: Blanton threw two wild pitches in the first.
One fan waved a “Ross for Governor” sign. Another read: “This is Rosstober.”
But by the end, the familiar chants or “U-ribe! U-ribe!” rang through the Giants’ packed waterfront ballpark.
Uribe was a late scratch before Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday before playing Tuesday. The wrist had bothered Uribe when swinging, Bochy said.
There was no sign of that on his final cut.
“Who doesn’t want to play now? I want to be here,” Uribe said. “In that moment, everybody knew my wrist was hurting a little bit. I think that’s why he threw a lot of fastballs in because he knew. I was trying to hit the ball deep enough to get the run home and for us to win the game.”