Cards Get Ben-ed In The Pinch

(Photo: Jeff Curry/US Presswire)

In an odd turn of events, it was Ben Francisco hitting his first home run since May as the Phillies beat St. Louis 3-2 to put the Cards on the brink of extinction in the 2011 postseason.

This season hasn't gone how Ben Francisco would have liked. He started the season as the Phillies right fielder, but was eventually relegated back to bench duty. That's all but forgotten now though, as Francisco hit a pinch three-run home run to lead the Phillies over the Cardinals 3-2 in game three of the NLDS.

Francisco pinch-hit for Cole Hamels in the top of the seventh, with runners on first and second and two out. Neither team had put so much as a run on the board when Francisco took a liking to a 1-0 fastball from starter Jaime Garcia (0-1). The result was Francisco's first home run since May 25 against Cincinnati.

The three-run insurance plan didn't last long though as reliever Vance Worley came on in the bottom of the inning and gave up a walk and two singles as St. Louis earned their first run of the game. Worley worked his way out of the inning and then opened the eighth, but gave up a leadoff single to Ryan Theriot.

From there, manager Charlie Manuel started to piece things together. Antonio Bastardo got pinch-hitter and former Phillie Nick Punto to fly out to center and Manuel then turned to Brad Lidge, who he hoped to have pitch the rest of the inning. Lidge gave up a single to pinch-hitter Matt Holliday and another to Rafael Furcal, ending Manuel's plan of having Lidge finish the inning.

Ryan Madson came on to throw one pitch and get a double-play ball to end the eighth inning threat, but would get into trouble himself in the ninth. Madson gave up a leadoff double to Albert Pujols - his third double and fourth hit of the game - and then got the next two hitters. Yadier Molina delivered an RBI single to center and suddenly, the Cardinals were down by just one run.

Theriot came to the plate 4-for-4 on the night and 6-for-8 in the series, but Madson got him to ground a ball weakly to second to end the game.

The Phillies are now up two games to one in the best-of-five series and can knock the Cardinals out of the postseason with a win Wednesday. The Phillies will send Roy Oswalt to the mound, while the Cardinals will counter with Edwin Jackson.


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