PHILADELPHIA — The headliners in Saturday's NL Championship Series opener were supposed to be the pedigreed pitchers: Philadelphia's Roy Halladay, he of the division series no-hitter in his postseason debut, and San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, he of the slightly less impressive 14-strikeout performance against the Braves.
Instead it was a couple of castoffs — Cody Ross and ex-Ray Pat Burrell — who stole the show as the Giants took a 4-3 victory that took away the Phillies' homefield advantage in the best-of-seven series.
Burrell had a big hit, a double in the middle of the Giants' two-run sixth, but Ross, claimed — though not necessarily wanted — off waivers from the Marlins in late August, did more, hitting a pair of solo home runs off Halladay.
"You look at this team, we have some characters here, you know, whether you want to call them castoffs or misfits," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I compare them to the Dirty Dozen. That's the way they play. But they've coalesced into a team that goes out there to win."
Halladay wasn't horrible, allowing four runs and eight hits over seven innings, but nothing like he was against the Reds. And Lincecum was slightly better over his seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits, walking three and striking out eight.
Ross, who grew up wanting to be a rodeo clown, figured he'd finish the year with the cost-cutting Marlins when he was unexpectedly claimed on waivers by the Giants, who were more interested in keeping him from getting to the then-division-leading Padres than adding him to their growing collection of outfielders.
But Ross forced his way into the lineup, and it has worked out pretty well all around. He knocked in the winning run in two of the division series wins over Atlanta, then Saturday he gave the Giants confidence and a spark, putting them up 1-0 in the third then 2-1 in the fifth.
"I'm pretty sure that's one of the best games he's ever had in his life," said Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff, another former Ray. "He's been a great 'garbage' find for us."
"It's been an unbelievable experience for me," Ross said. "I can't really explain it with words, the way it's all gone down. But I'm just cherishing it and trying to enjoy every minute of it."
Burrell's performance wasn't quite as dramatic but was important nonetheless. The Giants still led 2-1 when rookie catcher Buster Posey, the Florida State product, singled with two outs in the sixth. Halladay felt — apparently strongly based on his reaction — he had Burrell struck out on an 0-and-2 pitch, but home-plate umpire Derryl Cousins disagreed and Burrell laced the next pitch to the leftfield wall, where it went off Raul Ibanez's glove for an RBI double.
For the Giants, it guaranteed they'll head home after tonight's Game 2 with no worse than a split. For Burrell and for Ross, it was another reminder of their fresh start.
"There's a lot of guys here that didn't start the year here that are big parts of this team," Burrell said. "And when everybody's going out there to win, it makes a big difference."