SAN FRANCISCO -- He said it the other day. He says it all the time.
``The bottom line is the final score,’’ Roy Halladay told people dissecting his previous two postseason starts and his well-chronicled struggles against the Giants. ``How you get there doesn't always necessarily matter as much.’’
Halladay and the Phillies got there the most excruciating way possible in last night’s 4-2 Game 5 victory. Without his best fastball, or his customary pinpoint control, the Phillies ace scraped and scuffled through six innings. He retired the side in order just once, battled through some chilling downpours and some uncustomary emotions throughout, but left with a one-run lead, with his team in position to push this National League Championship Series back to Philadelphia.
Game 5 in miserable chilling rain.
Your ace on the hill in a low-scoring game.
Geez, why does that sound familiar?
Ryan Madson struck out Posey, Burrell and Ross – the meat of San Francisco’s order -- in a spectacular eighth inning. Jayson Werth added a towering home run to rightfield in the eighth inning. Brad Lidge worked a clean ninth. The Phillies live to fight another day.
When Halladay walked struggling Andres Torres on a 3-2 pitch to start the game, it forebode what was ahead. A sharp single, another misplayed double play ball, this time by Chase Utley, and for the fourth time in five games, the Giants had the early advantage.
The Phillies ace came back to strike out Pat Burrell looking. Burrell stood in the batter’s box to discuss the call, and Halladay, who felt he had been squeezed in Torres at-bat, said something to him on his way to the dugout. A heated exchange ensued and Halladay, normally a sea of calm in the dugout, could be seen seething.
Angry at calls, himself, a batter lingering too long after a strikeout – this was not the Roy Halladay of the regular season, or even the one that started this postseason with a no-hitter.
By the time Juan Uribe lined to Jimmy Rollins to end the second inning, Halladay had thrown 43 pitches.
The oohs and ahhs that followed opponents swings last night may have exceeded the amount heard in road games all season. against Halladay in this game than you’ve heard all season.
And yet by the time he threw his 44th , the Phillies had a 3-1 lead. As has been the case in both of his previous postseason starts, Halladay was front and center in the rally, this time with a well-placed three-inch bunt with two runners on in the third.
Only home plate umpire Jeff Nelson thought it was fair.
Buster Posey threw to third base but Pablo Sandoval, pinching to play the bunt, could not catch the ball and get back to the bag ahead of Raul Ibanez, whose soft single opened the inning.
Carlos Ruiz, who reached base when he was hit by an inside pitch, followed to second on the steal. Shane Victorino then ripped a low line drive to the right side that careened off Huff’s glove/foot and into no man’s land in right centerfield. Both runners scored and Victorino raced to second as all three infielders chased after the ball.
Placido Polanco drove in Victorino with a single to left-center. Chase Utley followed with a hit, but Lincecum struck out Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth flew out to left.
Ibanez’s leadoff single was just the third time this series that the Phillies have put their first batter of an inning on base.
Lincecum retired the Phillies in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, although Victorino put a scare in the crowd of 43,713 in the fifth with a towering fly that pushed Ross to the base of the right field wall. But the Giants two-time Cy Young winner had thrown 67 pitches by the end of the fourth, and was up to 89 pitches after the sixth.
He left after seven innings, 104 pitches. If an argument can be made that Halladay outpitched Lincecum in losing Game 1, the same could be said about last night in reverse.
Halladay struck out Juan Uribe with two runners on to end the sixth. Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero worked a scoreless seventh, setting up the end game perfectly.
Halladay wasn’t Halladay for the second start in a row. He’s now thrown 272 and 2/3 innings this season, and that’s a ton for even him. But he pitched with guile and grit, and he pitched well enough for his team to win, to have a chance, heading back home.