Playoff Series: Game 4 of 4

San Francisco won 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, October 7
San Francisco1
Game 2: Friday, October 8
in 11
San Francisco4
Game 3: Sunday, October 10
San Francisco3Final
Game 4: Monday, October 11
San Francisco3Final

Giants 3


Braves 2


    7:37 PM ET, October 11, 2010

    Turner Field, Atlanta, Georgia 

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    SF 000001200 3 5 1
    ATL 001001000 2 7 2

    W: M. Bumgarner (1-0)

    L: D. Lowe (0-2)

    S: B. Wilson (2)

    Giants advance to NLCS by sending off Braves and manager Bobby Cox

    Associated Press

    ATLANTA -- The San Francisco Giants celebrated their first playoff win in eight years, then paused to honor the man whose career they had just ended.

    As Bobby Cox came out of the Braves dugout to tip his cap to the chanting crowd one last time Monday night, the Giants stopped what they were doing on the other side of the field.

    They began clapping, too, and tipped their caps in Cox's direction. The Atlanta manager waved back.

    Then the Giants headed off to savor a 3-2 victory that sent them to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 2002. Twenty-one-year-old rookie Madison Bumgarner pitched six strong innings, late-season pickup Cody Ross homered and drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out single in the seventh, and the San Francisco bullpen closed it out.

    For Cox, there are no more games, only the reality of what he's going to do with the rest of his life without a group of ballplayers to manage.

    He can put away that familiar No. 6 uniform for good.

    "It doesn't feel like the last time I'm putting it on, but it certainly is," Cox said, his voice cracking. "I won't put it on again."

    The series was tight and tense to the very last out. Giants closer Brian Wilson walked two in the ninth, giving the Braves one more shot to extend Cox's career. But Omar Infante struck out attempting to check his swing on a nasty slider, and Melky Cabrera grounded out to third.

    "This series had everything," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "Just the intensity and excitement of the series, it had to be thrilling for the fans. There was never an easy moment for Bobby or myself, because these games could have gone either way."

    Indeed, every game was decided by one run, but the Giants won three of them to take the best-of-five series and earn a shot against the two-time defending NL champion Phillies. Game 1 is Saturday at Philadelphia and features a marquee matchup: Tim Lincecum vs. Roy Halladay.

    After the final out, the crowd of 44,532 chanted "Bobby! Bobby! Bobby!" to lure the retiring skipper out of the dugout for a well-deserved curtain call.

    "Thank You, Bobby Cox," the giant video board said as "Georgia On My Mind" played throughout the stadium

    "He's the best manager for me that's ever managed the game," said Ross, who was acquired from Florida on a waiver claim in late August and paid big dividends in October. "I got a chance to play against him for five years. I love coming in here seeing him. I want to congratulate the Braves on a fine season and him on a great career."

    Atlanta starter Derek Lowe pitched no-hit ball into the sixth inning, and still it wasn't enough. The Braves have yet to win at Turner Field with a series on the line, losing for the eighth straight time in that situation since the Ted opened to baseball in 1997. Cox won't get a chance to end that streak, deciding more than a year ago to call it a career at age 69.

    He heads for the rocking chair as the fourth winningest manager in baseball history (2,504 regular-season victories) but one major shortcoming on a record that will surely be good enough to land him in Cooperstown. In 16 trips to the playoffs -- one with Toronto, 15 with the Braves -- Cox's teams captured only one World Series title, way back in 1995.

    A Braves fan held up a sign pleading for the team to "Win It For Bobby," but Ross and the Giants were in no mood for sentimentality. Not even with the comfort of knowing that Game 5 would've been back in San Francisco, and Lincecum was all rested and ready to go after a two-hit, 14-strikeout shutout in Game 1.

    Now, the Giants ace is lined up to face Halladay, who pitched a no-hitter last week in his postseason debut. The Phillies and Giants split six games this season.

    "I can't say enough about our pitching," Ross said. "They keep us in it the whole time. We just need to score a few."

    The Braves couldn't blame this one on Brooks Conrad. Shortstop Alex Gonzalez made a couple of errors -- including a high throw in the decisive seventh that got Ross to the plate with two outs. He delivered a bases-loaded single to left, driving in the tiebreaking run.

    Gonzalez also got caught loafing down the line in the eighth after hitting a soft liner toward shortstop -- violating one of Cox's few rules (always play hard). Edgar Renteria dropped it, but still threw out Gonzalez easily at first.

    Conrad didn't start after making three errors in Game 3, which the Braves were one out from winning to take the lead in the series. The last of those let in the winning run of San Francisco's 3-2 victory, a stunning turnaround that gave the upper hand back to the Giants.

    They didn't let it slip away, even after falling behind twice in Game 4. Bumgarner pitched like a veteran, allowing six hits and both Atlanta runs.

    Missing Chipper Jones and Martin Prado from an offense that wasn't all that strong to begin with, the Braves simply didn't have enough bats to extend Cox's career. Jason Heyward had his first two hits of the series but still batted .125. As a team, Atlanta managed just 24 hits in the four games.

    Lowe did all he could, turning in a gutsy performance on three days' rest. He blanked the Giants without a hit over the first 5 1/3 innings, but Ross struck in the sixth with a liner to left that barely cleared the wall. Just like that, it was 1-all on San Francisco's first hit of the night.

    Brian McCann, who had a sacrifice fly in the third to give Atlanta its first lead of the series before the eighth inning, struck again in the sixth. He led off with a shot over the wall in right to quickly restore the Braves' lead.

    Lowe -- working hard, muttering to himself and sweating profusely on an unseasonably warm night -- finally ran out of gas in the seventh.

    With one out, Aubrey Huff drew a walk from Lowe. Buster Posey followed by topping one toward third baseman Troy Glaus, who was essentially Conrad's replacement but can barely move because of a sore knee. Posey beat it out without even drawing a throw.

    Cox walked slowly toward the mound as though he was going to make a change, but he wanted to ask Lowe how he felt. The pitcher nodded his head and Cox left him in the game, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd.

    But the Giants stayed patient against the tiring Lowe. Pat Burrell worked the count to 3-1, then Lowe threw a pitch that darted toward the inside corner. A little too far inside. Ball four.

    Lowe threw out his arms, practically pleading with home plate umpire Mike Winters for the call. Cox emerged slowly from the dugout a second time, this time to make the change. Lowe bent over behind the mound, then walked toward Cox to hand him the ball and kept on going toward the clubhouse.

    Peter Moylan, a ground-ball specialist, came on to face Juan Uribe. The Braves got what they wanted, only the grounder was between third base and shortstop. Glaus didn't even make an attempt, Gonzalez made a backhanded grab and threw toward second for the force.

    But the throw was a little high, and Infante had to reach up to get it. He had no shot at the double play -- and the Braves wound up getting no one when umpire Ed Hickox ruled that Infante had pulled his right foot off the bag a split-second before catching the ball. Replays were inconclusive on a call that left the bases loaded with one out.

    Jonny Venters, the third pitcher of the inning, struck out pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand on a wicked slider. But Ross came through with another big hit, grounding one out of Gonzalez's reach into left field to bring home the go-ahead run.

    Matt Diaz prevented the Braves from falling even farther behind when he made a strong throw to beat the slow-running Burrell, who was tagged out by McCann in a collision at the plate. But 3-2 was good enough for the Giants' bullpen.

    Santiago Casilla worked 1 2/3 innings, Javier Lopez struck out Heyward to end the eighth and Wilson earned his second save in as many nights.

    Then it was time to celebrate a playoff victory -- and remember Cox's career.

    "I revere this man so much," Bochy said. "It's going to be strange coming in here and not seeing Bobby on the other side."

    Game notes

    After drawing a sellout of more than 53,000 for Game 3, there were thousands of empty seats in the upper deck. ... The Braves last win in an elimination contest was Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS, when they routed St. Louis 15-0 in the final season at old Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. ... San Francisco, making its first playoff appearance since 2003, won its first postseason series since beating St. Louis 4-1 in the 2002 NL Championship Series.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Game Information

    StadiumTurner Field, Atlanta, GA
    Attendance44,532 (90.2% full) - % is based on regular season capacity
    Game Time2:56
    Weather76 degrees, partly cloudy
    Wind6 mph
    UmpiresHome Plate - Mike Winters, First Base - Jerry Layne, Second Base - Ed Hickox, Third Base - Dana Demuth

    Research Notes

    In his 25 years with the Braves, Bobby Cox won 14 division titles, five National League pennants, and a World Series title. He's also one of four managers with 2,500 or more wins.
    The Giants series-clinching victory featured several win probability swings: - After a Brian McCann sac fly gave the Braves a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third, the Giants' win probability sat at 34.4 percent. - A Cody Ross home run in the top of the sixth tied the game at 1, and the Giants win probability was 46.7 percent. - Brian McCann answered with a solo home run just three batters later, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead. The Giants win probability sat at 42.9 percent before the play, but just 24.7 percent after, making it the biggest win probability change of the game. - Jason Heyward singled two batters later in the sixth and the Giants win probability was just 24.5 percent - the lowest of the game. - With the Giants starting to rally in the seventh, their win probability increased dramatically. After Derek Lowe walked Pat Burrell (his final batter) to load the bases, the Giants win probability was 48.6 percent. - After Juan Uribe reached on an Alex Gonzalez error, scoring Aubrey Huff to tie the game at 2, the Giants win probability was 66.3 percent. - Following an Aaron Rowand strikeout with the bases loaded, the Giants win probability dipped back down to 53.7 percent. - A Cody Ross single to left scored Buster Posey to give the Giants a 3-2 lead, but Pat Burrell was thrown at home. The Giants win probability was 66.3 percent heading to the bottom of the seventh. - Entering the bottom of the ninth inning, the Giants win probability was 90.1 percent. After Rick Ankiel and Eric Hinske walked with one out, the Giants win probability dipped to just 68.4 percent. Omar Infante struck out, upping the Giants chances to 84.1 percent. With two outs, Melky Cabrera grounded out to third, bringing the Giants win probability to 100 percent and sending them to the NLCS.
    How Derek Lowe kept the Braves in the game: - Lowe relied frequently on his slider, continuing a trend since September. Since then, he's thrown his slider much more often, with stunning results. In Game 4, Giants hitters missed on 11 of their 16 swings, tying a season-high for Lowe, including five misses alone in the second inning. Six of his eight strikeouts came on his slider. His only mistake was a hanger in the middle of the plate that Cody Ross hit for a home run. - When he wasn't missing bats with his slider, Lowe was getting ground balls with his sinker. He recorded seven ground-ball outs on the pitch and eight overall. Of the 19 outs he recorded, 16 of them came by way of a strikeout or a ground out.
    The Braves tied a postseason record for errors in a 4-game series with 8, tying the marks previously set by the 1932 Yankees and 2004 Red Sox.
    - After a mysterious drop in velocity late last season, Bumgarner's speed on his fastball has been climbing with each month - and it peaked, in a rousing way, on Monday. His fastball touched 95 MPH, and he was able have career-best success with it across the board. His velocity, strike percentage, miss percentage and chase percentage were the highest of his career. -Bumgarner went to his fastball early, throwing 28 in the first three innings and allowing three hits. He threw just 15 fastballs the next three innings, going more often to his slider to keep hitters off balance. He didn't allow a hit on his fastball the rest of the way. - Bumgarner's rising fastball velocity helped make his off-speed more effective. He threw 31 sliders, second most in a start, and Braves hitters missed on 7 of their 15 swings (47 pct), his highest miss percentage in his career on his slider.
    Madison Bumgarner is the youngest Giants pitcher to win a postseason game, at age 21. He surpasses the previous-youngest, Hal Schumaker (age 22, 1933 WS).
    From Elias: The Giants starters finished with an ERA of 0.93 in the series. That is the 3rd-lowest starters ERA by an NL team in a postseason series.
    Derek Lowe now has 4 postseason losses in which he allowed 2 ER or fewer and pitched at least 4 innings. That is tied with Christy Mathewson for the 3rd-most such losses all-time. Only Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, with 7 each, have more.
    From Elias: Braves have lost 6 straight postseason series, tied for the 4th-longest streak all-time.
    Cody Ross singled home the go-ahead run in the 7th inning. He is the 4th Giants player batting 8th with a go-ahead hit in the 7th inning or later of a postseason game. The others are Frank Snyder in Game 2 of 1921 World Series, Blondy Ryan in Game 4 of 1933 World Series, and David Bell in Game 4 of 2002 World Series.
    Madison Bumgarner is the 2nd-youngest starter to win a series-clinching game in postseason history. The youngest was Fernando Valenzuela in the 1981 NLCS.
    From Elias: The Giants-Braves NLDS is the FIRST series in postseason history in which all of the games were decided by one run.
    FROM ELIAS There have been 3 no-hit bids of at least 5 innings this postseason (Roy Halladay, Jonathan Sanchez and Derek Lowe) That ties the all-time record for most such bids in a postseason, previously set in 1998.

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