Giants make statement in Game 1 of NLCS

San Francisco Giants' Cody Ross (L) celebrates with teammates after hitting his second home run of the game against the Philadelphia Phillies in the fifth inning during Game 1 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in Philadelphia, October 16, 2010. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Before the NLCS started, you almost had the sense that the Giants didn’t belong. That they weren’t supposed to be here and that they were just stopping by to pay a visit to the Phillies before Philadelphia went on to play in its third straight World Series.

Sure the Giants had Tim Lincecum starting in Game 1, but he was facing Roy Halladay. In his first postseason start of his career, “Doc” threw a no-hitter against the Reds, who arguably have a much more potent lineup than San Francisco. He was sure to slice through their lineup with the greatest of ease.

The Giants are a cute team, but you can’t get serious with them. You two have some fun, you share some laughs – but you’re not bringing them home to meet mom. The Phillies – now that’s a team you marry.

Well, apparently that cute Giants team isn’t messing around.

Thanks to huge night by Cody Ross, another stellar pitching performance by Tim Lincecum and a shutdown effort by their bullpen, the Giants beat the Phillies 4-3 in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night. They knocked around Halladay for four runs on eight hits and Ross went deep twice on the Phillies’ ace to set the tone for a massive San Francisco win.

Lincecum wasn’t as dominating as he was in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Braves, but he allowed just three runs on six hits over seven innings of work while also striking out eight. He gave up a two-run home run to Jayson Werth in the 6th to make the game 4-3, but Javier Lopez (a great mid-season add by GM Brian Sabean) and Brian Wilson (whose black beard is mesmerizing) combined to shut Philly out in the eighth and ninth to preserve the victory.

The G-Men have a long, daunting task ahead of them but this was a huge first step. To beat the Phillies’ ace in his home park and in a hostile environment was impressive. The late-season acquisition of Ross continues to pay off and don’t forget that Lincecum isn’t the only Giants’ pitcher with nasty stuff. Game 2’s starter Jonathan Sanchez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning against the Braves and his slider could limit Philly’s power. It doesn’t get any easier for Philadelphia, either.

But even if Sanchez doesn’t pitch well in Game 2 tonight, the Giants have already accomplished what they needed to do, which was win at least one game in Philly. Now that the pressure is on the Phillies to earn a split, San Fran could go a long way to making its World Series dream a reality if it can beat Roy Oswalt.

Lace ‘em up – we’ve got ourselves a series.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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