Big League Stew - MLB

Score and situation: After being stung by a big comeback in the previous game, the Philadelphia Phillies took a big step toward their fourth straight NLCS with a 3-2 victory against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night. The Phillies lead the best-of-five series 2-1 and also have home-field advantage back, should they need it.

Leading lads: Ben Francisco(notes), come on down! He tattooed a three-run homer against left-hander Jaime Garcia(notes) in the seventh to break a scoreless tie. It was his first homer in 127 plate appearances — going back to May 20.

Once upon a time, he was competing for starting time in left with Raul Ibañez, but had become marginalized as John Mayberry(notes) developed and Hunter Pence(notes) came aboard. Cole Hamels(notes) needed 117 pitches, but didn't allow a run over six innings.

Head hangers: The Cardinals stranded 14 runners, with Lance Berkman(notes) going 0 for 4 to drop his series average to .167. With the game still scoreless in the sixth, Cards manager Tony La Russa let Garcia hit for himself with two runners aboard and two outs.

Key play: Allen Craig(notes) grounded into an inning-ending double play in the bottom of the eighth with Albert Pujols(notes) on deck. Pujols led off bottom of the ninth with a double — his fourth hit of the game — and is 7 for 13 with two walks in his past 15 plate appearances.

What they'll be talking about: The Cardinals stranding all of those runners and Ryan Madson(notes) getting five outs for the first time this season in a save situation.

What's next: On Wednesday night, Roy Oswalt(notes) tries to get the Phillies to the NLCS against Edwin Jackson(notes) for the Cardinals.

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