Reporting from San Francisco — That the San Francisco Giants erupted in joy after a walkoff victory on Wednesday was no surprise. The Giants are one victory from the World Series.
The pitcher walking off the field in defeat, well, that was a surprise. Roy Oswalt, with 150 career victories and zero career saves, shuffled toward the visiting dugout, a losing relief pitcher enveloped in delirium.
"This time of year, you've got to pitch," Oswalt said. "It doesn't matter."
Oswalt, one of the Philadelphia Phillies' three aces, won Game 2 of the National League championship series on Sunday. He threw a 20-minute pregame bullpen session Wednesday, iced his arm, then took off his cleats and took a seat on the bench.
In the eighth inning, as the Phillies had tied the score and all but exhausted their bullpen, Oswalt told pitching coach Rich Dubee he could give his team an inning or two. By that time, the Phillies had used four of their relievers, all except left-hander J.C. Romero, long man Kyle Kendrick and closer Brad Lidge.
Dubee thanked Oswalt for his offer, then told him to scurry to the bullpen.
"All of a sudden, he came down," Lidge said. "I wasn't sure who we would use for the ninth if it stayed tied."
It did. The Phillies opted for Oswalt, even though Lidge had warmed up, even though he had thrown one inning in the previous 11 days.
The Phillies played it by the book. As the closer, Lidge is not deployed in a road game until the Phillies have the chance to win.
"That's the way we've always done it," Lidge said.
He did not second-guess his manager's decision to give the ninth inning to Oswalt, who had made one relief appearance in the past three years.
"Every game is kind of do-or-die," Lidge said. "We appreciate that Roy went down there."
Oswalt pitched eight innings in Game 2, and the Giants never got consecutive hits against him. In this game, after Freddy Sanchez lined out to start the ninth, Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey hit back-to-back singles.
Juan Uribe hit a sacrifice fly, for the walkoff victory. Oswalt walked off, and into the visiting clubhouse. When it opened to reporters, Oswalt could be found sitting on a chair, staring into his locker, icing his arm for the second time that day.
Oswalt eventually stood up, retreated into the trainer's room, then collected his thoughts and returned to speak with reporters.
He had no regrets about volunteering to pitch on his day off.
"I was thinking I was going to watch a ballgame," he said. "I'm always ready. I was hoping to get out of there and let Brad to try to save the game."
The Phillies will try to save their season on Thursday, with Roy Halladay starting an elimination game. If Philadelphia wins, Oswalt is scheduled to start an elimination game on Saturday.
"I'll be ready," he said.