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Giants ride another tight, zany victory to World Series


PHILADELPHIA -- They won it in a way that nobody thought they would, with general manager Brian Sabean slowly stacking up pieces like cordwood throughout the summer, acquiring a Pat Burrell here, a Cody Ross there, a Javier Lopez or a Buster Posey seemingly arriving weekly.

They won it in a way that nobody thought they could, with manager Bruce Bochy yanking wild starter Jonathan Sanchez only two batters into the third inning amid the deafening roar of 46,062 jammed into Citizens Bank Park, a stunning do-or-die Game 6 for a Phillies team that was built for the big stage.

But they won it just the way they should, these off-the-wall Giants, with another one-run staredown, rope-tugging from every corner of their roster and with one of the game's underrated great managers using bold strokes, big and small, to put the finishing touches on San Francisco's latest masterpiece.

The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! Had Hall of Fame broadcaster Jon Miller channeled the late, great Russ Hodges upstairs in the booth, it would have howled around this park like the winter wind, so quiet did this place become when San Francisco closer Brian Wilson threw a cutter past a frozen Ryan Howard to send the Phillies packing.

The Giants were clinging to a one-run lead, Phillies were on first and second and, as usual, Bochy's boys were playing the game broadcaster Duane Kuiper long ago started calling -- appropriately -- "torture baseball."

"My approach," a champagne-soaked Wilson said, holding the huge NL championship trophy like an end table, "was to throw the ball forward and don't ruin this."

Throw the ball forward. Next stop: World Series, only their fourth since moving west from New York in 1958 (they've never won in San Francisco).

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The Texas Rangers and old friend, Bengie Molina -- traded to make room for Posey.

"This is a great franchise," Wilson gushed. "Both of us. Watching [Rangers president] Nolan Ryan last night, I know how much it probably meant to him.

"And our fans have been waiting since spring training. They let us know, too: Don't ruin it for us.

"This is a sweet feeling. I can't imagine the streets of San Francisco."

Wilson, the Bearded Wonder, paused.

"I can imagine the streets of San Francisco."

Those streets undoubtedly came alive in the top of the eighth inning when Juan Uribe changed a tense 2-2 game into an almost unbearable 3-2 Giants lead by dropping a home run into the first row of right-field stands just behind a helpless Jayson Werth.

"I feel good when I hit the ball," said Uribe, the starting shortstop on the Chicago White Sox's 2005 World Series winner and the man who won Game 4 of this NLCS for the Giants with a sacrifice fly. "I know the ball can go [when hit to right field]."

The pitch was an 89 mph slider from Ryan Madson, who was working his second inning of relief of Roy Oswalt.

"Oh, these guys were a lot happy," a beaming Uribe said of the reaction when he returned to the dugout. "The other team is a good team, too. We needed one run."

Did they ever. But if there were any team in baseball perfectly prepared for the moment, it was these Giants.

They scored two runs or fewer in 58 of their 162 games -- the fourth-most such fruitless games in the majors.

They were 12-46 in those games. Give them a third run -- as Uribe did -- or more and the Giants were 80-24, best record in the majors.

On this night, early, it looked as if the Giants might need 12 or 13 runs to win. Sanchez, who went 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA during the month of September, said he had his best pregame warmup of the season in the bullpen. But, in a classic -- and ill-timed -- left-it-in-the-bullpen moment, Sanchez could not throw a strike to save his soul when the game started.

The Phillies jumped him for two first-inning runs, the first of which -- Placido Polanco -- reached base on a four-pitch walk.

Philadelphia put Sanchez through the wringer during a 24-pitch first inning in which they scored two and left two aboard -- a sloppy habit in this NLCS that was the Phils' undoing.

Then, after the Giants tied the score with two runs in the third, Sanchez issued a leadoff walk to Polanco in the bottom of the third and then drilled Chase Utley with a pitch.

And that's when things got ugly -- and changed.

Utley picked the ball up and tossed it toward Sanchez on his way to first. Sanchez hollered a few words back. And the benches cleared.

"We were playing a little tentatively," Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery said. "The noise out there was deafening. It was a little shock and awe. What Sanchez did kind of broke the ice.

"You're never going to do that intentionally, not there. But it got everyone on the field and it was like, 'Forget this. Let's go for their throat.'

"And that's what we did."

Bochy was already on his way to the mound to hook Sanchez as the benches cleared. But what could have been a crisis -- you'd better believe no Giant wanted a part of having to win this NLCS in Game 7 in Philadelphia -- instead became a triumph.

Jeremy Affeldt started a parade of five relievers, two of whom were starters. Madison Bumgarner, the Game 4 starter, followed Affeldt to the mound in the fifth for two innings. And after lefty specialist Javier Lopez again dispatched lefties Utley and Ryan Howard (the duo went 1 for 12 against Lopez, who faced them in all six games), in came Bochy's boldest move.

Tim Lincecum, two-time Cy Young winner, fresh(?) off throwing 104 pitches in Game 5 only two nights before.

It was like watching Clint Eastwood enter a scene in San Francisco as Dirty Harry. On the Phillies' radio broadcast, they called the move "a little bit crazy."

"Tim knew before the game," Bochy said. "He was going to pitch the eighth if we had a one- or two-run lead."

While the heart was willing, well ... Lincecum fanned Werth to start the eighth, but Victorino and Raul Ibanez followed with singles.

About this time, those with long memories were recalling one other similar Bochy maneuver, back in the 1998 NLCS when he was managing in San Diego and summoned Padres ace Kevin Brown to start the eighth inning of Game 5 against Atlanta.

That night, the Padres also needed one win to close out the series and Brown went walk, single, out ... and then served up a three-run homer to Michael Tucker that put the Braves ahead 5-4 and sent the series back to Atlanta.

"I wasn't thinking about that," said Flannery, also the third-base coach on Bochy's staff then. "But I remember it."

So as he did with Brown, Bochy came out to remove Lincecum after the two hits. Difference between then and now was, the Giants were still tied in this one.

And as he has done so often this season, Bochy summoned Wilson for what would be a five-out save. And, what was new? It was another one-run game: The Giants were 28-24 in those during the regular season, those 52 games ranking as the fourth-most one-run affairs in the NL.

With runners on first and second, white towels waving like a snowstorm and the noise like a freight train coming through your living room, Carlos Ruiz greeted Wilson with a sharp line drive ... right into the glove of first baseman Aubrey Huff.

Victorino was so far toward third that Huff easily fired the ball to Uribe to double him off and end the threat.

"My initial thought was, 'I hope the right fielder is playing real shallow,' " Wilson said. "I didn't even know Huff was there. Next thing I know, he's screaming at first base, throws it to second and we're out of the inning."

Then, the ninth.

Then, bedlam.

And Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday evening at AT&T Park.

"This is a different type team," said Bochy, who has dubbed them the 'Dirty Dozen.' "It's a team the city has embraced. You could tell how the fans supported us."

"Their personalities, they wear on their sleeve," Sabean said. "But they really bust their ass on the field. They respect each other.

"It's like the United Nations in [the clubhouse]. But come game time, we get it done."

"It means a lot, because you've got every single guy contributing," Wilson said. "We don't have one guy who hit 75 homers, we don't have one guy who has no ERA. You look around and we have a guy who stole second base, you look and we have a guy who scored in Colorado on an errant throw, you look at a guy like Cody Ross with three jacks [in the NLCS, good enough to be named MVP].

"You're going to look at every single guy in here. It's a team effort, it really is."

All along, the Giants were the one NL team, if they brought their "A" games, who could pitch with the Phillies' outstanding staff.

But that part is an old story.

"I was thinking last year, I knew we had the pitching," Wilson said. "It was going to take a couple of key signings. And Sabean nailed it, he really did."

Now the Giants, who lost to the Yankees in a seven-game classic in 1962, who were swept by the Athletics in the earthquake-wrecked debacle in 1989 and who were six outs away from winning before losing to the Angels in the 2002 seven-game set, are positioned, again, to win San Francisco its first World Series.

"We came this way thus far with a chance to win," Wilson said. "We like our odds still. We're the real deal.

"We just won the pennant. It's time to start believing."


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