Ben Francisco chose to hit his first homer since May 25 in the seventh inning of the Phils’ 3-2 win over the Cardinals in Game 3 of the NLDS.
Prior to Francisco’s bomb, the Phillies had absolutely no answer for Jaime Garcia and his incessant strike-throwing. Garcia threw first-pitch strikes to each of the first 10 batters he faced and needed just 51 pitches to get through the game’s first five innings.
Shane Victorino started the Phils’ crucial rally in the seventh, leading off the frame with a line-drive single up the chute. A rare passed ball by Yadier Molina put Victorino on second, and following an intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz, Francisco came to the plate to hit for Cole Hamels. Garcia’s 1-0 cutter missed around the belt, and Francisco drove it into the left-center field bullpen.
Working with a 3-0 lead, the Phils' pen did their best to make it interesting, stranding runners in scoring position to end the seventh and eighth innings. Ryan Madson’s effort to mop up Brad Lidge’s mess in the eighth was nothing short of miraculous. Clinging to a 3-1 lead with the bases jammed, Madson got Allen Craig to hit a one-hop smash at Chase Utley, who tagged second and threw to first to end the inning without any damage. Madson gave up a two-out, RBI single to Molina in the ninth, but escaped with the save.
Hamels’ performance gets lost in the chaos of the last three innings, but was impressive nonetheless. Despite some early command issues, the lefty battled through six innings without surrendering a run en route to his seventh playoff win. His six scoreless frames lower his career NLDS earned run average to 1.82.
The Phils take a 2-1 series lead despite being outhit 12-7 in Game 3. It’ll be Roy Oswalt against Edwin Jackson in Game 4.