July 26, 2011
GIANTS (59-43) vs.
Coverage begins at 4 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
UPDATE: Lincecum out with flu symptoms, Zito to start
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The San Francisco Giants ended the defending champion Philadelphia Phillies' season with a six-game victory in last year's NL championship series, en route to a World Series title of their own.
With Tim Lincecum and Vance Worley on the mound for the series opener Tuesday night in Philadelphia, the rematch between these division leaders becomes even more intriguing.
The Giants' 3-2 victory in Game 6 in Philadelphia set the stage for the franchise's first World Series title since moving from New York to San Francisco prior to the 1958 season. Now set to face each other for the first time since, the NL East-leading Phillies (64-37) own baseball's best record while the Giants (59-43) have a four-game cushion atop the NL West.
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San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy is aware of the hype, even if this three-game set won't determine the final standings.
"Sure, there's going to be some added interest in this series, but there's a lot of baseball left," Bochy told the Giants' official website. "We've got to play our best ball with the team they have (in Philadelphia) -- (leading) their division, (having) the best record. When you go in there, you better be on top of your game."
Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino is also set on bigger goals.
"I don't walk around saying I want revenge on these guys," he said. "Revenge would be bringing the trophy back to Philly."
That quest continues against Lincecum (8-8, 2.90 ERA), who pitched one-third of an inning in Game 6 of the NLCS after taking the loss in Game 5.
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The left-hander has a 1.84 ERA over his last seven starts, but only a 3-3 record to show for it as he's received seven total runs of support in those outings. His tough luck continued Wednesday, when he limited the Dodgers to one run in seven innings but got charged with a 1-0 loss.
The Giants, winners of 9 of their last 12 including a 2-1 victory over Milwaukee on Sunday, haven't produced much offense for any pitcher of late. San Francisco has scored eight runs over its last four games and is the major leagues' only team without a player with at least 10 home runs.
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Worley (6-1, 2.02) has been just as good as Lincecum lately, and he'll look to keep the Giants' offense in check. He's allowed either one earned run or none in eight of his 10 starts, and has won his last four while sporting a 0.99 ERA. He allowed one run in eight innings of a victory over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday.
The 23-year-old rookie right-hander wasn't in Philadelphia's star-studded rotation at the beginning of the season, but he's stepped up after injuries to Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.
The Phillies, who are 10-2 in Worley's starts, look to bounce back after having their five-game winning streak snapped in a 5-4 loss to San Diego on Monday, when their No. 1-4 hitters - Jimmy Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard - went a combined 2 for 13.
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Howard is hitting .171 since the All-Star break, but he's 6 for 19 with two doubles, three walks and three homers lifetime against Lincecum. However, Victorino (4 for 21) and Utley (2 for 20) haven't fared as well versus the two-time NL Cy Young winner.
If the Phillies get Lincecum out of the game, they'll have to contend with a Giants bullpen which has a 0.28 ERA since the break. San Francisco relievers have allowed one hit in 13 2-3 scoreless innings over the last six games.
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These teams split six regular-season meetings in 2010.