ST. LOUIS -- This was the game the Phillies were concerned about.
They knew the numbers. They knew Jaime Garcia has dominated them. They knew that basically every hitter they would send to the plate has terrible career numbers against the young Cardinals left-hander.
Hey, numbers aren't everything.
Ben Francisco was 1-for-9 against Garcia when Charlie Manuel sent him up to pinch hit in the seventh inning (and, according to baseball-reference.com, the hit was an infield single). Now he's 2-for-10, and the second hit was a three-run home run that gave the Phillies a 3-2 Game 3 win and turned this series decidedly in their favor.
Garcia was very good again Tuesday. Before Francisco's home run, the Phillies had just four hits, all of them singles, in 6 2/3 scoreless innings. But an inning that began with a Shane Victorino single took a bad turn for the Cardinals when a two-out Yadier Molina passed ball led to a Tony La Russa intentional walk of Carlos Ruiz.
That brought Francisco to hit for Cole Hamels, who had already thrown 117 pitches in six shutout innings. Francisco had just the one hit off Garcia, but he did have a long fly ball against him, a couple of weeks back in Philadelphia.
"I almost hit one out, hit it to the wall," Francisco said. "That night, I wanted that pitch back."
This time, Garcia wanted it back, after it turned into the home run that changed the game.
It did not win the game, simply because the Phillies still had nine outs to get, and their bullpen is a huge postseason question.
With the help of Vance Worley (a regular-season starter), and with Ryan Madson's first five-out save since 2009 (and just his third ever), the Phillies got the job done in this game.
They've gotten past the dangerous Garcia, who had them so nervous, and they're one win away from qualifying for their fourth straight National League Championship Series.
And now the pitching matchups seem to be in their favor.
Roy Oswalt goes against Edwin Jackson in Wednesday's Game 4. And even if the Cardinals win that one, the Phillies feel ultra-confident with Roy Halladay ready (against Chris Carpenter) in a potential Game 5 back in Philadelphia.
This was the game that really worried them, the game that had turned this series into such a worry.
No thanks to the numbers, they won it.