PHILADELPHIA — Roy Oswalt just wasn't going to be stopped Sunday.
Not on the mound, where he dominated from the start and allowed only three hits over eight dazzling innings.
"He was on tonight," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Nor apparently on the bases, where he ran through a stop sign and raced home with a key run in the Phillies' 6-1 victory that evened the NL Championship Series at a game apiece.
"What the hell are we going to do, rope him?" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "I ain't that good. I'm not a cowboy. I might look like one, talk like one, but I'm not one."
The seven games Oswalt won after being acquired from Houston in late July were welcomed, but the Phillies made the deal for a night like Sunday, when the veteran right-hander was masterful in improving his career postseason record to 5-0 with a 3.43 ERA.
"Definitely games like tonight," Manuel said.
The Phillies came into the game with something of a must-win approach, and for good reason: All 11 teams that lost the first two games of an NLCS at home lost the series, as did 17 of 19 overall (and eight of the nine in the current seven-game format) who fell behind 0-2.
"The biggest thing is it's momentum," Oswalt said.
With Oswalt holding the Giants down — they didn't have a hit until Babe, oops, Cody Ross homered in the fifth — the Phillies finally broke through and broke open a 2-1 game with four runs in the seventh.
Oswalt was a key part of that, too, along with Jimmy Rollins, who delivered a three-run double.
But first Oswalt, using Rollins' bat, got them started with a single to center. He advanced to second on a bunt and eventually came around, running right through third-base coach Sam Perlozzo's stop sign to score on Placido Polanco's single.
Oswalt admitted he decided as soon as the ball cleared the infield that he was going to score, and that he didn't see the stop sign until he was halfway there. "I said it's too late now," Oswalt said. "No turning back."
Perlozzo could barely watch. "I felt like he was extremely out," Perlozzo said. "But sometimes you get lucky."
Actually, Perlozzo's stop sign was the reason Oswalt wasn't out, because it led Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff to cut off Andres Torres' throw from center.
"I made a bad decision," Huff said. "The throw was right on the money. It nails him. I've got to let it go. I kinda got that deke, where I saw the hands up. It was just reaction."
Oswalt was pitching for a degree of redemption for his ineffective start in Game 2 of the division series, when he allowed the Reds four runs (three earned) on five hits (including two homers) and left after five innings with a no-decision.
He certainly got it, allowing just three hits and one run while striking out nine and walking three, throwing 111 pitches.
"He definitely had a little chip on his shoulder," Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino said. "He wanted to come out and make a statement. He probably didn't pitch the way he really wanted to in his last game."
The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the first without a hit — drawing three walks off Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez in a five-batter span of his 35-pitch inning, with Rollins forcing in the run.
The Giants got their first hit in the fifth when Ross, who homered twice Saturday, went deep again.
But the Phillies answered right back, taking a 2-1 lead when Victorino doubled and came around on a pair of fly balls.
The Phillies have never won a playoff series in which they dropped the opener, going 0-6. They had won seven straight openers until Saturday.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com.