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Swinging for fences pays off for Uribe

Swinging for fences pays off for Uribe

PHILADELPHIA -- Juan Uribe insists he wasn't trying to drive the ball the other way. He vows he wasn't sitting on a pitch. His objective was much simpler than all that.


No specifics attached, Uribe was just looking to go deep.

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"Oh yeah," he recalled. "I wanted to go home."

The Giants infielder stepped into the batter's box against Ryan Madson on Saturday, Game 6 of the Nationals League Championship Series tied at 2 and Madson one out away from sending the contest into the bottom half of the eighth. There was some history between the two, though that history doesn't take long to review. They had faced each other twice previously, with Uribe connecting for one home run.

The Phillies right-hander went with a first-pitch slider, leaving it high enough over the plate to be plenty enticing. Never one to hesitate to swing at the first pitch, Uribe went for it.

"I'm not looking for a pitch," Uribe said. "I see the ball and had a big swing. I try a big swing every time."

This would be his biggest.

It didn't clear the wall by much, but that was hardly of consequence. Uribe raised his right arm, pumped his fist and made the biggest 360-foot trek around the diamond of his 10-year career.

"When I hit it, I think it was gone," he said, champagne-soaked afterward. "Then when you see the ball going, ohhhhhhh."

He laughed, his smile fluctuating between big and, well, really big. At one point, he was asked if this go-ahead solo homer was the high point of his career. More fulfilling than winning a World Series championship in 2005? More career-defining than making a terrific defensive play to end that Fall Classic?

There was not a moment of hesitation.

"Yeah, this is bigger," Uribe said. "This is a lot of big. This is big like me!"

Spoken by a 6-foot, 230-pound man, such an analogy resonated.

For the Phillies, the home run was season-ending. It halted their hopes of a third straight National League pennant and soured a series that had included 4 2/3 scoreless innings and seven strikeouts from Madson before Saturday.

"I wasn't expecting it to be a homer like that, late in the game," Madson said. "You're always taught that if they beat you that way, you tip your hat. And he beat me that way. Obviously, he a great hitter. I'm just saying I didn't think it was going to be a home run. It was."

"You know what, when that ball goes up and I saw Jayson Werth go toward the fence with his back to me, I go, 'Oh, no,'" Phillies manager Charlie Manuel added. "That's what I said. I go, 'Oh, no.'"

The home run was the fourth of the League Championship Series for the Giants, though the first by someone not named Cody Ross. In fact, 269 at-bats had come and gone since San Francisco's last home run by anyone other than No. 13.

This one, more than any of the previous this postseason, sent the Giants dugout into a frenzy.

"It was something that you dream of," Ross said. "For him to come up and hit a big home run against Madson, who was lights-out this postseason, to come up and hit an opposite-field home run, our dugout went nuts."

"I was watching the game in the clubhouse and as soon as I saw it clear, I went jumping into the dugout and started to join in," second baseman Freddy Sanchez said.

For Uribe, the home run -- which was the eighth he's hit this year to give San Francisco a lead -- marked his second game-winning RBI of the series. It was his sacrifice fly with one out in the ninth on Wednesday that staked the Giants to a 3-1 series lead.

But this, well, this trumped everything.

"I see my team and there was a lot of happy," Uribe said. "Now, I feel a lot of good."

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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