American Football: Lincecum's clever pitching gives first blood to Giants

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum outduelled Roy Halladay in one of the most highly anticipated pitching battles in years as the Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies 4-3 on Saturday in the opening game of the National League Championship Series.

San Francisco outfielder Cody Ross provided the offensive fireworks with two solo home runs off Halladay, who surrendered four runs over seven innings and took the loss.

"We thought it would be a close game, which it was," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's a long series here. It's a start. That's all it is right now. The important thing was to get a win off the start to give the team a sense of confidence."

Lincecum, the two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner, pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out eight before relievers Javier Lopez and Brian Wilson closed it out.

The Phillies got seven hits off the Giants' three pitchers and manager Charlie Manuel admitted he was worried about his team's poor batting. "I'm concerned," he said. "We struck out 13 times tonight. We've got to hit better and we have to score more runs."

The two sides were due to play the second game in the series last night, while, in the American League Championship, the Texas Rangers charged out to a big lead on Saturday and this time made it stick for a 7-2 victory over the New York Yankees that levelled the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

Texas, who squandered a 5-0 lead with some poor pitching in Friday's defeat, led 5-0 again after three innings but this time prevailed. The winners of the two series meet in the World Series which starts on 27 October.

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