MLB Playoffs 2011: Philadelphia Phillies Showing They Won't Be Denied This Time

Manny RandhawaCorrespondent IIIOctober 5, 2011

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 04:  Carlos Ruiz #51, Shane Victorino #8 and Ben Francisco #10 of the Philadelphia Phillies celebrate after Francisco's three-run home run as Yadier Molina #4 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on in the seventh inning Game Three of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

When the Phillies hung on to beat the Cardinals in Tuesday night's Game 3 of the National League Division Series in St. Louis, they made a definitive statement.

In defeating St. Louis, they beat a team that finished with the best offense in the National League and was on a tear coming into the postseason, making a mad dash to catch the Atlanta Braves and qualify for the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

Just how good have the Cardinals been since September 1? They went 18-8 to claim the NL Wild Card spot. Over the past four weeks they're hitting .293 as a team.

In the first two games of the division series against the Phillies, they scored 11 runs. The starters for Philadelphia in those contests were Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

With the Cards able to gain a split in the first two games at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies flew into St. Louis with the prospect of having to win at least one of the next two at Busch Stadium to get the series back to Philadelphia for a decisive Game 5.

But October 4 in St. Louis may have been the day that the Phillies turned the corner.

Cole Hamels was brilliant, tossing six shutout innings while giving up just five hits and striking out eight. Ben Francisco, who hit .244 with just six home runs in the regular season, hit a huge three-run shot to put his club ahead 3-0 after six scoreless frames on both sides.

Francisco's blast was a postseason moment that the Phillies needed; one with a big hit from an unlikely source, the kind that is looked back on as one of a handful of crucial events after the clinching of a championship.

ST. LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 4: Starter Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during game three of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 4, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip V
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

In the eighth, with the bases loaded and Philadelphia desperately clinging to a 3-1 lead, Ryan Madson got the ground ball he needed, and a quick double play later, the Phillies were back in the dugout, three outs away from taking a two games to one lead in the best-of-five series.

And in the ninth, with the Phillies' lead now just one at 3-2, and the tying run at first base, Madson closed it out, averting yet another furious charge by a team that has been furiously charging for a month now, utterly destroying everything in its path with onslaught after offensive onslaught.

The Game 3 victory speaks volumes about this Phillies club. For a proud franchise that won a World Series just three seasons ago, but burns with frustration over not having any more to show for their three straight appearances in the League Championship Series, this win was sweet.

In 2009, it was the Yankees that dethroned Philadelphia from the pinnacle of the baseball world. Last season it was the upstart San Francisco Giants.

But there's an unquenchable thirst in Philadelphia this season. The Phillies are refusing to be denied in 2011.