Wed, Oct 13, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Giants defeat Braves to reach NLCS

COX OUT:Atlanta Braves skipper Bobby Cox managed his last game after saying last year that this season would be his final year, capping 51 years in the major leagues

AFP, ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Cody Ross smacked a solo home run and drove in the winning run as the San Francisco Giants advanced to the second round of the Major League Baseball playoffs by defeating Atlanta 3-2 on Monday.

San Francisco ousted Atlanta three games to one in the best-of-five series and booked a date against the two-time National League defending champion Philadelphia Phillies in the best-of-seven NL Championship Series that begins on Saturday.

After surviving a series that saw every game decided by a single run, the Giants seek their first World Series title since 1954 when they were based in New York. The club moved to California four years later.

“To win this was huge for us,” Ross said. “I can’t say enough about our pitching. They keep us in it the whole time. We managed to get enough runs to win.”

The Giants, who split six games with the Phillies this season, last reached the NLCS in 2002, when they advanced to the World Series but lost to Anaheim in the maximum seven games.

Brian McCann’s sacrifice fly in the third inning scored Omar Infante to give the Braves a 1-0 lead.

Atlanta’s Derek Lowe, pitching on only three days of rest after a loss in the series opener, hurled five hitless shutout innings against the Giants.

Ross broke up Lowe’s no-hit bid on a solo homer with one out in the sixth inning, pulling the Giants level at 1-1.

“I was just going up there to be aggressive, looking for a good pitch to hit, and I got good wood on it,” Ross said. “Every at bat I just went up there like it was just a regular season time at bat.”

McCann answered by leading off Atlanta’s half of the sixth with a solo homer off San Francisco southpaw Madison Bumgartner to put the Braves on top 2-1.

In the seventh, Lowe issued two walks, the latter to load the bases with one out, before being removed.

Atlanta shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a throwing error attempting a double play that allowed Aubrey Huff to score from third base and pull the Giants even at 2-2 with the bases remaining loaded.

Ross put the Giants ahead 3-2 with a single to left field that scored Buster Posey but catcher McCann took a throw from Matt Diaz and tagged out San Francisco’s Pat Burrell at home plate, denying a run and ending the inning.

The Braves put a runner in scoring position in the eighth but could not force home the equalizer and San Francisco closing relief ace Brian Wilson entered in the ninth.

Wilson issued back-to-back walks with one out to put the tying run in scoring position before striking out Infante and inducing Melky Cabrera to ground out to third for the final out.

San Francisco’s Bumgartner gave up two runs on six hits while striking out five batters but became the first rookie pitcher to win an NL series clincher on the road since 1981.

“I tried to stay relaxed and keep myself composed and I thought I did a pretty good job of that,” Bumgartner said. “We’re on a pretty good roll.”

Atlanta manager Bobby Cox, who had spent 51 years in the major leagues, took a final bow to the crowd after seeing his career come to a close with the loss. Cox, 69, announced last year this would be his final season guiding the Braves.

“We played a really good game. We wanted this game big time. It just didn’t happen for us.” Cox said. “I’m proud of the team. They have come a long way. They played their hearts out and I will miss them.”

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