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Ross is Giants' hero again

SAN FRANCISCO — Cody Ross keeps doing his best Barry Bonds imitation.

With the home run king cheering from a front-row seat, Ross delivered again, and Matt Cain outdueled Cole Hamels as the Giants beat the Phillies 3-0 on Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Picked up off waivers in August from the Marlins, Ross added to his quickly growing postseason legacy. He homered three times in the first two games at Philadelphia and hit an RBI single in Game 3 to break a scoreless tie.

"He plays with no fear," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's what you love about the guy."

Ross insists he's far from deserving of comparisons to Bonds or Mr. October himself, Reggie Jackson.

Bochy even tinkered with his lineup, moving Ross up into the No. 5 spot. The good-natured guy who aspired to be a rodeo clown as a kid came to the plate to chants of "Cody! Cody!"

"It's an easy name to chant, that's probably why. Two syllables," Ross said.

"It's been an unbelievable experience for me so far. A month and a half, two months ago, I didn't dream I'd be in this situation. The Giants were awesome to bring me over here. It's just been a great ride."

San Francisco grabbed the edge in its best-of-seven series against the two-time defending NL champions, with two more games in their home ballpark.

The Giants have never won the World Series since moving to San Francisco before the 1958 season. They came within six outs of a title in 2002, led by Bonds' slugging.

The last time this franchise won it all was in 1954, as the New York Giants. On a team that included future Hall of Famer Willie Mays and other big-name players, it was a part-time outfielder who hit .253 in his career — Dusty Rhodes — who emerged as the Series star with two homers in six at-bats.

So far this postseason, that role of unlikely hero belongs to Ross, an outfielder with a lifetime .265 mark. Ross and Rhodes played seven seasons and reached the postseason once.

"He's our spark plug," former Ray Aubrey Huff said.

Ross hit an RBI single in the fourth to break a scoreless tie, and fellow playoff first-timer Huff followed with an RBI single.

"He's definitely hot," Hamels said. "He's been battling and hitting pitches that most normal people can't hit at this time."

The answer?

"Hit him," Hamels kidded.

This marked the third impressive pitcher's duel in the NLCS. First, it was Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum, then Roy Oswalt and Jonathan Sanchez.

Joe Blanton starts for the Phillies tonight, though manager Charlie Manuel considered Halladay on short rest. Rookie Madison Bumgarner starts for the Giants in his first career matchup with the Phillies.

"I would say (today) is the biggest game we've played so far," Manuel said.

Ross is Giants' hero again 10/19/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 20, 2010 7:21am]
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