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Mark Townsend

Five moments that won NLDS Game 4 for the Giants

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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The San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 3-2 on Monday night, advancing to their first NLCS since 2002 and ending the storied career of manager Bobby Cox.

It really was quite a baseball game, but it was devoid of the one big signature moment. However, it was littered with significant game-changing moments and performances that ultimately added up in favor of the Giants.

Just in case you missed the action or you're the guy in the front row who spent four innings on his iPhone, here is a quick rundown of the five biggest moments and performances for the advancing Giants.

1. Cody Ross'(notes) go-ahead RBI single in the seventh: It's debatable whether the Giants really wanted Cody Ross when they claimed him off waivers from the Florida Marlins over the summer, but they definitely knew the San Diego Padres did. Whatever the real reason for their claim, they have to be thrilled a player of his caliber fell into their laps.

After an Aaron Rowand(notes) strikeout, it was Cody's turn to bat with the bases loaded in that seventh inning. Ross came through pulling an RBI single through the left side of the infield. It was very nearly a two-run single, but credit goes to Matt Diaz(notes) for a fantastic throw, Brian McCann(notes) for even better block of home plate to keep Pat Burrell(notes) from scoring another run and Getty Images' Jamie Squire for this great photo below.

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2. Ross' solo homer in the sixth: Ross' RBI single wasn't his only big contribution on the night. Derek Lowe(notes) was no-hitting the Giants over the first five innings on three days rest, but Ross was able to break the seal for San Francisco with a clothesline drive to left field that just cleared the wall. The homer tied the game at one and an instant run like that in a series where runs were few and far between went down as a big turning point.

3. Pat Burrell ruled safe at second: The Braves had retaken the lead in the sixth on a Brian McCann solo homer, but the Giants then put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, setting up a key situation.

Juan Uribe(notes) grounded one deep into the hole at shortstop. Alex Gonzalez(notes) dove and fielded it cleanly on the backhand, but made a high throw to second baseman Omar Infante(notes), pulling him off the base and causing second base umpire Ed Hickox to rule Pat Burrell safe.

Was the correct call made? Judging from this screencap, maybe not.

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But credit Burrell for some great hustle on a bang-bang play. If he's out there, our first moment never happens.

4. Derek Lowe swings at first pitch with base loaded: The Braves mounted the games first offensive threat in the second inning, loading the bases after a Mike Fontenot(notes) throwing error and a seven-pitch walk by Rick Ankiel(notes). This left the threat up to starting pitcher Derek Lowe, who promptly popped the first pitch up weakly into right field.

Lowe making an out there isn't unexpected or a huge problem, but you expect a more veteran approach by a veteran player. There was a lot of pressure on 21-year-old starter Madison Bumgarner(notes) in that spot and if you make him throw or work the count a little, maybe you end up with a gift walk or a cheap run on a wild pitch.

It felt like a missed opportunity, because the at-bat was completely given away.

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5. Giants bullpen nails down the series win: It had been a struggle for the Giants bullpen in the previous two games with two blown saves, but they rebounded in a big way on Monday night, holding on to a narrow one-run lead over three full innings.

Especially impressive was Santiago Casilla(notes), who registered a critical shutdown seventh inning after San Francisco had finally gained the lead. He would return in the eighth to retire two more before giving way to Javier Lopez(notes), who would strikeout Jason Heyward(notes) on four pitches.

The ninth inning belonged to Brian Wilson(notes).

Wilson struggled initially to understand Mike Winters' strike zone, walking Rick Ankiel and pinch-hitter Eric Hinske(notes), but rebounded to make all-star Omar Infante look silly with his slider away. He then finished the Braves by coaxing a groundout off the bat of Melky Cabrera(notes).

The celebration was on. The San Francisco Giants were headed to Philadelphia.

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