PHILADELPHIA - Nothing came easy for the San Francisco Giants this season, not even the postseason.
It doesn’t matter now. They’re in the World Series.
Juan Uribe hit a tiebreaking homer off Ryan Madson with two outs in the eighth inning and the Giants held off the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-2, on Saturday in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.
“I’m speechless, just breathless,” Giants general manager Brian Sabean said. “It’s a great opportunity to see what we can do on a bigger stage.”
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Unlikely MVP Cody Ross and the pitching-rich Giants reached the World Series for the first time since 2002 and will host the Texas Rangers in Game 1 on Wednesday night.
The Giants, who didn’t clinch a playoff spot until the final day of the regular season, will try for their first championship since moving to San Francisco in 1958.
Slumping Phillies slugger Ryan Howard looked at a called third strike – a 90 mph slider at the knees – with runners on first and second to end it. San Francisco closer Brian Wilson got the final five outs, finishing off the Phillies’ bid to become the first NL team in 66 years to win three pennants in a row.
“Right now it’s heaven, but it was torture for that final strike,” Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff said.
Giants ace Tim Lincecum struggled in the eighth inning, pitching in relief on one day of rest after losing Game 5
But Wilson took over and got Carlos Ruiz to line out to Huff for an inning-ending double play in the eighth.
Benches cleared in the third inning after Giants starter Jonathan Sanchez hit Chase Utley with a pitch and then yelled at the All-Star second baseman for tossing the ball back toward the mound on his way to first base.
No punches were thrown and nobody was ejected, though Sanchez was pulled. San Francisco used six pitchers, including four lefties.
“We fought, we scratched and clawed,” said Giants left fielder Pat Burrell, who won a championship ring with the Phillies in 2008. “I don’t know how we did it but we did it.”
The Giants are seeking their first World Series title since 1954 when they were still in New York. Led by Barry Bonds in 2002, they came six outs of winning it in Game 6 against the wild-card Angels only to lose.
It’s been quite a wait for a franchise that moved West in 1958.
Even with Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, the Giants couldn’t bring a title to the Bay Area.
Now it’s up to the Freak (Lincecum), Kung Fu Panda (Pablo Sandoval), Pat the Bat (Burrell), an eccentric closer with a bushy beard that’s dyed black (Wilson), a journeyman outfielder who aspired to be a rodeo clown (Ross), and a rookie named Buster (Posey).
Those are nicknames that would make the Say Hey Kid, the Baby Bull and Stretch proud.
“We had such a diversity of contributions from everybody,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Not bad for a bunch of castoffs and misfits.”
The Giants overcame a 2-0 first-inning deficit, tied it in the third and went ahead when Uribe hit an opposite-field drive that barely cleared the right-field wall.
Uribe hit a game-ending sacrifice fly off Roy Oswalt to give the Giants a 3-1 series lead in Game 4.
The Phillies are going home early after leading the majors in wins for the first time in franchise history.