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Phillies Notebook: Giants' Cody Ross commanding respect

SAN FRANCISCO - Over the past few postseasons, the Phillies have had to contend with some of the top offensive players in the game.

SAN FRANCISCO - Over the past few postseasons, the Phillies have had to contend with some of the top offensive players in the game.

Alex Rodriguez. Manny Ramirez. Carl Crawford. Prince Fielder. Ryan Braun. Carlos Gonzalez.

And . . . Cody Ross?

What he lacks in star power, the scrappy Giants outfielder has more than made up for in isolated power in the first two games of the National League Championship Series. In the Giants' 4-3 win in Game 1, he snapped Roy Halladay's hitless-innings streak at 12 with a home run in the fourth. Later, he took Halladay deep for a second solo shot.

On Sunday night, Roy Oswalt had held the Giants hitless through four innings when Ross launched a solo homer with one out in the fifth, his third of the NLCS and fourth in the postseason.

Which brings us to Game 3, where Ross and the Giants will square off against Phillies lefty Cole Hamels. Hamels has allowed four home runs against Ross in his career, more than any other player has hit against him.

"Right now, he's hot," said Hamels, who is coming off a five-hit shutout of the Reds in Game 3 of the NLDS. "And that's huge. For them and for him. And I think it's just a matter of battling and trying to make your pitches. I watched a few of his home runs and I'd say two of them were the pitches that they wanted, and he hit them out. And two of the pitches were just pitches that were mistakes he was able to hit out."

The Phillies are well-acquainted with Ross, a former Florida Marlin who was claimed off waivers by the Giants in August.

Including this postseason, Ross has 16 career homers against the Phillies, more than any other opponent.

"He likes to play against us, and he enjoys to play against us," manager Charlie Manuel said. "And that helps him to relax, and he gets up for us. But not only that, he's a good player. And he definitely can hurt you. And he's strong for a little guy, and he will surprise you. And actually, he's a better player than you realize. Sometime if you see him when he's not playing so good you won't realize how good he really is. He's a pretty solid player."

Lineup matters

There is a chance Charlie Manuel sticks with his new-look lineup today in Game 3, keeping Placido Polanco at No. 3 and Chase Utley at No. 2. The manager flip-flopped the two hitters before Game 2 and was pleased with the results against lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez and the Giants' bullpen. Polanco went 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored, while Utley walked twice and scored two runs.

Despite the fact that the Phillies will be facing a righthander in Matt Cain today, Manuel said he still might keep his lineup in its current formation to better guard against a lefty reliever facing both Utley and Ryan Howard in succession.

"That might be a chance," he said. "I'll think about it tonight. Got a little time. No sense getting into a hurry."

But, he admitted, "I think last night that it worked out pretty good."

Before Manuel made the switch, Utley and Howard had combined to go 2-for-29 with 14 strikeouts and two extra-base hits against lefty relievers in the last two postseasons.

Game 4 starter

Once again, Charlie Manuel was asked whether he would consider using Roy Halladay in Game 4 if the Phillies were to lose today. He has said repeatedly that his current plan is to use Joe Blanton. Yesterday, though, he left himself some wiggle room.

"We'll play the game tomorrow," he said. "Does it impact it? I don't know exactly. We'll just wait and see what happens."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy yesterday reiterated his intent to use rookie lefthander Madison Bumgarner in Game 4 regardless of the result of today's game.