PHILADELPHIA -- There had been a lot of talk this week about how nobody wants to face the Giants in the playoffs. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in a best-of-five National League Division Series? No, thanks.
But after the Phillies beat the Giants on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, 2-1, maybe a reminder is in order. The Phillies scored just three runs in the three-game series, but won twice behind superb pitching of their own. Lincecum and Cain are scary when they are on, but Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who threw a shutout Tuesday, can be equally as dominant. And Pedro Martinez, who refers to himself as the Old Goat, allowed five hits and one run and struck out nine in seven innings to outduel Lincecum in arguably Martinez's best pitching performance since May 31, 2006, when he threw eight shutout innings against the D-backs. "I got flashes back from the good old times," Martinez said. "Like you all know, I don't have probably the same power I used to have, but I always said it's not about power. It's hitting the spot and knowing what to do with it." In a sense, Thursday was master vs. protege. Martinez is a three-time Cy Young Award winner. Lincecum won his first Cy Young last season, his second in the Majors. "He's amazing," Martinez said about Lincecum. "He reminds me a lot of me, only twice as better at the same time in the big leagues. This is his second or third year, right? Yeah, he already has a Cy Young." Lincecum felt the same about Martinez, who won his first Cy Young in his fifth full season in the Majors in 1997 with Montreal. "I used him as an example of guys who had great careers and put up pretty phenomenal numbers considering their lack of size," Lincecum said. "Him, [David] Eckstein and all those smaller guys are guys I use as examples of myself or myself as examples of them. "Just to get to see what kind of stuff he has and it's just ridiculous how nasty it still is today. You can see that he knows what he's doing and he's not just winging it up there hoping that he's getting outs. He's pitching with a purpose. He knows how to get guys out and that was apparent in the first three innings." But Giants left fielder Eugenio Velez actually hit a first-pitch fastball from Martinez for a leadoff home run in the first inning to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel thought the homer fired up Martinez. It seemed to do just that. "It's a wakeup call for anyone like me," Martinez said. "I assume that those kids know the fastball is coming and it's coming for a strike from a guy like me. He put a good swing on it." But Jayson Werth crushed a 3-2 offspeed pitch from Lincecum into the upper deck in left field in the second inning to make it 1-1. Martinez and Lincecum went back and forth until the sixth inning when Lincecum drilled Chase Utley with a fastball in the back of his right shoulder to put him on first base with two outs. Ryan Howard followed with a double to right-center field to score Utley to give the Phillies the lead. "With two outs, when the ball is put in play he's trying to score," Howard said of Utley. "He's running until they stop him." Martinez retired 13 consecutive batters after Pablo Sandoval doubled with one out in the first inning. He retired 20 of the final 23 batters he faced. "Physically, I'm very pleased with the way I feel," Martinez said. "I didn't feel tired. I didn't lose anything. When you see one fastball at 90 [mph] and the other is 86, that's me doing that. It's bouncing pitches. It's doing things I want to do. Physically, I'm able to do that and now I hope to make that a consistent thing from me." The Phillies have been getting consistent pitching lately, which is why they have been winning despite a slumping offense. "I think last year it showed in the playoffs that pitching and defense can win you a lot of games," Utley said. "You're not going to score every single night. You're bound to run into a tough pitcher occasionally. But if you have good pitchers on your side and play good defense, it's going to be a good game." Thursday was a great one. Two Cy Young winners on the mound.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.