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Giants' October run hinges on offense

Giants' October run hinges on offense

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PHILADELPHIA -- As enjoyable as it has been to dissect the life and times of Cody Ross as the 29-year-old outfielder keeps finding ways to lift the Giants, his storybook postseason will soon come to a crashing halt without a productive supporting cast to back him.

The Giants are well aware of this, too.

A club led by pitching, San Francisco is going to have to find some way to muster sufficient offensive support against Roy Oswalt in Game 6 -- or Cole Hamels if the series extends to a Game 7 -- if it is to continue its magical October run.

To this point the offense has done just enough to push the Giants one win from the World Series. It scored only seven runs in three National League Division Series wins, all of which came by a one-run margin. The production hasn't been that much more prolific in the NL Championship Series, as the club has plated 16 runs in five games.

This is a case, though, where the end has so far justified the means. Or, if nothing else, it has overshadowed the holes in it.

"I think most of the time, you see the teams that do win and do win the World Series and bring home those championships ... You don't see All-Star lineups in there," Aaron Rowand said. "Occasionally, like last year, I mean, you saw the Yankees go out and do what they did. But if you were to look back, they weren't as stacked last year as they were previous years where they didn't make it to the World Series."

The Giants showcased all season that with its starting rotation, a little offense can go a long way. The club had the Majors' best record when scoring three or more runs (80-24) and is 5-1 with such support this postseason.

The Giants also have the same postseason record in games in which they scored first.

"It hasn't been one guy that carries this team," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've had our struggles, and even during the course of a game, when things go awry, it seems like somebody different steps into the breach and finds a way to help us win the ballgame."

So can the Giants' offense really do it? Well, that really depends on whether you subscribe more to statistics or to Game 5 observations.

The stats suggest that although the Phillies will be in the unenviable "must win" mind-set on Saturday, it may actually be the Giants who are perceived to have the bigger hill to climb. After batting .228 at Citizens Bank Park in three regular-season games, the Giants batted just .194 here in two games last weekend.

The club is hitting a mere .217 with runners in scoring position this postseason and has one home run from someone not named Ross. And even though the team has won six of its nine playoff games, it has done so averaging three runs per game.

None of this would seem a particular harbinger for loads of offensive success this weekend.

But as Ross, in particular, has demonstrated over the last two weeks, past statistics aren't always precursors for future results. Despite being unable to clinch a series win in San Francisco on Thursday, the Giants' offense showed a pair of signs that suggest it might once again be set up to do just enough.

The top of the lineup finally awoke, and the offense, as a whole, showed improved patience at the plate.

"The last few games, we've been patient and working counts and hitting," Andres Torres said. "We've been doing great with that. We've got to stay with the plan and make them work, too, make them throw pitches. That's a big key for us."

On Thursday, patient at-bats helped swell Roy Halladay's pitch count to 108 by the end of the sixth, which would be his last inning of work. Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe combined to make Halladay throw 19 of those pitches in a two-batter sequence in the second. Torres worked the count full in each of his first two at-bats.

All were good signs.

The club's success this weekend could also largely hinge on the production the Giants get from the top of its order. Torres and Freddy Sanchez combined for four hits out of the lineup's top two spots in Game 5.

That was a welcome development after San Francisco's No. 1 and 2 hitters combined to bat just .151 through the first eight postseason games.

The Giants didn't get any production from Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey -- the pair combined to go 0-for-7 -- behind Torres and Sanchez on Thursday, but the chances were finally there. And it takes opportunities, of course, before the Giants can get a crack at improving those numbers with runners in scoring position.

"Andres being at the top of the lineup, it's huge for him to get on base and get stuff going," Ross said. "He did it in the first inning [on Thursday] and had a great at-bat for a great walk and ended up scoring."

No club did more with less this season than the Giants, but if their pitching is going to prevail, it's going to have to get ample help.

"That's the way it's going to have to be in this series," Huff said, pointing out the importance of timely hitting. "The pitching's so dominant."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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