The Phillies started this game off right, with J-Roll hitting a lead-off single and Jayson Werth following with another. Chase Utley stepped to the plate next and whacked a double, which scored Rollins. Ryan Howard hit a ball to 2nd base for an out, but it scored Werth. Pat Burrell walked and then with one out, Shane Victorino followed up by hitting into a double play to end the threat. The Phillies could have had at least one more run if Shane could have gotten the ball out of the infield, but he’d make up for it later on.
Joe Blanton, after pitching 4 innings of one-run baseball, nearly blew it in the 5th inning. He walked Rafael Furcal to start the inning and then Andre Ethier singles to bring up Manny Ramirez. And as expected, Ramirez came up with the big hit to score the tying run. Russell Martin grounded out, but it scored another run. The inning ended on a double play, but the damage was done. The Phillies were then down 3-2. Blanton’s ERA on the night was 5.40 on 7 hits and 4 walks through 5 innings.
The next inning, the Phillies had an opportunity to get back into the game: Howard walked, Burrell singled, Victorino bunted them over and then, for some unknown reason, Charlie Manuel decides to pull Greg Dobbs and bat Pedro Feliz??? Ok, I know he was thinking pitching match-ups, but the Dodgers are perfectly capable of switching pitchers, which they did. Result: Feliz pops out, no runs score! Dobbs is a much better hitter, regardless of pitcher, and would have been much more likely to drive a ball deep for a sac fly or, even better, get a hit. This was a mistake if you ask me. But, pitcher Chan Ho Park threw a wild pitch to Carlos Ruiz which allowed Howard to score anyway, tying up the game again. Thanks, Mr. Park! Then another fun move by Manuel – he announces lefty Geoff Jenkins as the pinch hitter after Ruiz walks, which again, prompted another pitching change. Then, Manuel feels the need to burn another bench player by using So Taguchi in place of Jenkins. Result: Taguchi flies out to end the inning. Now, I am no psychic, but I could have told you that was going to happen. Taguchi has been useless all season. Why would the post-season be any different?
And that brings us to the bottom of the 6th where Chad Durbin takes over. First batter – home run. Second batter hits a double, and then Durbin walks the third. At this point, Phillies fans everywhere are screaming at their TV’s. Durbin was pulled for Scott Eyre: Furcal bunts; Howard fields it and then throws the ball away trying to get him out at first! Another run scores and the runners move up to 2nd & 3rd – still NO outs. Howard has done nothing with his bat this series and NOW he is driving us all nuts with his defense, which was consistently awful all year. Back to this nerve-wracking inning: Eyre got the next batter to line out and then gave the intentional walk to Ramirez. Ryan Madson came in to face Martin with the bases loaded and luckily, on a sharply hit line drive, Utley caught it and was able to pull off an amazing solo double play as he caught Furcal wandering too far off 2nd base. The score after 6 innings was 5-3, Dodgers.
Are you freaking out yet? Well, thank you Shane Victorino
for putting us all out of our misery! Shane whacked a 2-run homer in the 8th inning to tie up the game. You gotta love the Flyin’ Hawaiian! But wait, there’s more…with 2 outs, Carlos Ruiz singles and then Matt Stairs comes on to pinch hit. Joe Torre decides to put in Jonathan Broxton to pitch to Stairs with Ruiz on base. Broxton had not surrendered a home run since July 2006. So, what does Stairs do? Hits a 2-run homer off him! And just like that, the Phillies are back in the lead, 7-5 after possibly, the biggest pinch hit of the year.
On to the bottom of the 8th: JC Romero gets the first 2 outs and then, in a move that, honestly, I did not particularly agree with, Manuel brings in Brad Lidge to pitch to Ramirez. All I kept thinking was, if Ramirez gets a hit or a home run, you do not want Ramirez to become the new Albert Pujols in the mind of Lidge. Not to mention, Lidge has not pitched more than one inning all year and will have to pitch the 9th as well. Anyway, as I predicted, Ramirez hits a double off Lidge, extending the inning. The adventure continued as Martin struck out swinging, but it was a wild pitch that went far past Ruiz and Russell is safe at 1st while Ramirez moves up to 3rd. James Loney batted next and luckily, he flied out to left to end the near-disaster. Now, Lidge has already tossed 15 pitches going into the 9th with your only other option being Clay Condrey or JA Happ (maybe, as he pitched 3 innings yesterday) if Lidge gets into trouble.
The Phillies went down easily in the bottom of the 9th, despite a lead-off hit by Utley, who wound up going 3 for 5 in the game with 1 RBI. So, on to the bottom half with Lidge coming out to try and save the game. And despite my reservations, Lidge did not disappoint. He knocked the Dodgers down in order and the Phillies won, 7-5. The Phillies are now 85-0 when leading after the 8th inning, including the post-season (79-0, regular season). The Phils are now up in the series 3-1 and need only 1 more win over 3 possible games to go to the World Series! Day off tomorrow; Game 5 on Weds. At 8:22pm. Go Phillies! ONE MORE GAME!!!!!!!!!! J
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