ST. LOUIS (AP) — Pinch-hitter Ben Francisco and closer Ryan Madson made manager Charlie Manuel’s moves look smart, and the Philadelphia Phillies held off the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 Tuesday for a 2-1 lead in their NL playoff series.
Francisco batted for pitcher Cole Hamels and broke open a scoreless game with a two-out, three-run homer in the seventh inning.
Madson earned his first multi-inning save of the year. He came in and got Allen Craig to sharply ground into a double play with the bases loaded to escape in the eighth, then worked around Yadier Molina’s RBI single in the ninth.
The Phillies, favored to win it all after a franchise-record 102-win season, can finish off the wild-card Cardinals in Game 4 today, with Roy Oswalt opposing Edwin Jackson.
Francisco’s shot off Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was only his second hit in 19 at-bats in the postseason.
“I knew the way the game was going I was probably going to be in there to pinch-hit off a lefty,” Francisco said. “Got up there with a runner in scoring position, I was just trying to get a hit up the middle and he left one up and luckily it got out of here.”
Hamels struck out eight in six scoreless innings. He’s a franchise-best 7-4 in the postseason with a 3.09 ERA.
The Cardinals frustrated a season-high crowd of 46,914, stranding 14 runners. They set a National League record with 169 double play balls.
Albert Pujols and Ryan Theriot had four hits apiece for St. Louis, the heavy underdog wild-card winners who had runners in scoring position in six innings. They came up empty despite three hits in the eighth, including a pinch-hit single by Matt Holliday in only his second appearance of the series.
The Cardinals’ decision to let Garcia bat with two on and two out in the sixth backfired in a big way. Garcia struck out on Hamels’ 117th pitch and wasn’t the same in the seventh.
The Phillies, held to three hits to that point, doubled that total in the seventh. Shane Victorino led off with a single and Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked with two outs. Francisco, who had been 1 for 9 against Garcia, deposited a 1-0 fastball in the visitor’s bullpen in left-center field.
Francisco was clutch at the end of the year with seven hits in his last 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position.