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'Two' tough? Phillies must solve mystery

'Two tough?' Phillies must solve mystery

The transcendent pitchers' duel that many expected may not have fully been realized in Saturday's Game 1 of the National League Championship Series, but the Giants and Phillies played a taut, one-run game taken by the road upstarts, 4-3.

In Game 2, Philadelphia will turn to its "other" Roy in Roy Oswalt, while the Giants counter with Jonathan Sanchez, trying to take a stunning 2-0 lead back to the Bay.

Here are some key storylines to look for in Sunday's Game 2, with first pitch coming at 8:07 p.m. ET.

'Two' tough for Philly? As the Phillies have dominated the National League playoffs the last two seasons, they've developed a curious habit of losing Game 2s. Philadelphia is 2-5 in the second game of a series dating back to the 2007 NLDS, and its only losses to NL teams last October came in its pair of Game 2s. And although the Phillies won Game 2 of their Division Series with Cincinnati, they needed to come back from a 4-0 deficit to do it, with the help of some Reds errors.

The Phillies' Game 2 problems, though, have almost all come following Game 1 victories, as they had won seven consecutive series openers before Saturday night. "Usually it's the other way around," Jimmy Rollins said. "We win Game 1 and find a way to lose Game 2. Now we've got to find a way to win Game 2."

Movin' on up: The Giants pushed Sanchez up to Game 2 for this series, in large part because the left-hander has had success against the Phillies. In four starts against Philadelphia over the last two seasons, Sanchez is 3-1 with a 1.82 ERA. Two of those starts were at Citizens Bank Park, where he allowed two earned runs on five hits in 14 combined innings.

Sensational southpaw
Lowest opponent average vs. Phillies
Rank Player Avg.
1. Rob Dibble .150
2. Tim Scott .158
3. Joe Hoerner .160
4. Floyd Youmans .162
5. Rawly Eastwick .163
6. Rich Robertson .165
7. Marv Grissom .169
8. Stan Belinda .170
9. Frank Smith .171
10. Jonathan Sanchez .175
Minimum of 30 innings

The Giants are hopeful that Sanchez can neutralize the Phillies' lefty-heavy lineup, as Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez are a combined 6-for-31 off him. Throughout his career, lefties have hit only .214 against Sanchez, including a .181 mark this year.

Changes at the top: Following the Game 1 loss, Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said he would "think about a whole lot of things" to spark an offense he described as "sputtering." The most obvious move might be to put Rollins back in the leadoff spot, where the shortstop is typically most comfortable and at his best.

It's no secret that Rollins hasn't looked himself all season while battling hamstring issues. That has been especially transparent in the postseason, where he's 1-for-15 after an 0-for-4, three-strikeout performance in Game 1. Rollins has been far better from the right side this season, posting a .297 average -- 79 points better than as a lefty.

Late-game question marks? San Francisco skipper Bruce Bochy took a calculated risk by using closer Brian Wilson for a four-out save in Game 1. It worked out on Saturday, but how does it affect his closer's availability on Sunday?

Wilson threw 33 pitches in Game 1. Four times this season, he has pitched one day after throwing 30 or more pitches, and three of those times, he has earned the save. However, all three of those saves came before the middle of June. The last time Wilson pitched the day after a 30-pitch outing, he allowed an inherited runner to score as well as one of his own, blowing a save and taking the loss. The starter that day? Sanchez.

Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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