Phillies strike first
Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit three-run homers, reliever Ryan Madson got a key out and Lidge finished the Phillies’ 8-6 victory over Los Angeles in Game 1 Thursday night.
Manny Ramirez homered, but grounded out weakly with two runners on against a struggling Madson to end the Dodgers’ two-run rally in the eighth. They stranded 10 runners in the game.
“It’s like a prize fight. We just came up a little short,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Lidge then worked around a single and a walk in the ninth, helped by a double play that made him for 3- for-3 in save chances this postseason—he posted three saves against the Dodgers in last year’s NLCS.
Lidge was perfect in save tries last season when the Phillies won the World Series, but led the majors with 11 blown opportunities this year.
“The Dodgers are a great team. They come from behind a lot, so you take everyone seriously,” he said. “Honestly, for some reason I’ve really been locked in this postseason. I felt really good mechanically. I feel like myself. I feel pretty comfortable right now.”
Home runs dominated on both sides in a game that lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes. Ruiz highlighted a five-run burst in the fifth and Ibanez homered in the eighth for an 8-4 lead.
James Loney also connected for the Dodgers. Ramirez, baseball’s all-time postseason home run leader with 29, hit a two-run shot.
Los Angeles will start Vicente Padilla against Philadelphia’s Pedro Martinez on Friday afternoon in Game 2.
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels thrived under pressure last October, earning NLCS and World Series MVP honors. But the left-hander hardly resembled the same pitcher in earning the victory, giving up eight hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings.
It was his first outing since he left the ballpark in the division series against Colorado to be with his wife as she prepared to give birth.
At 21 years and 211 days, Clayton Kershaw was the youngest pitcher ever to start a Game 1 in a league championship series, and it showed.
The Dodgers lefty was tagged for five runs in the fifth, when he set a LCS record for most wild pitches in an inning with three. He also tied the record for most wild pitches in a LCS game, shared by Tommy John and Juan Guzman.
Kershaw allowed four hits in 4 2-3 innings and walked five in his second postseason career start. He worked out of the bullpen in last year’s NLCS, which the Dodgers lost 4-1 to the Phillies. He was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against them during the regular season.
“It looked like he tried to overthrow the ball, got frustrated out there. Unfortunately, it got away from him quickly,” Torre said. “As far as the pressure of the game, he certainly can handle it, but sometimes things get away from you.”
The Dodgers’ usually solid bullpen couldn’t contain the Phils. George Sherrill, their fourth reliever of the game, gave up Ibanez’s homer on the first pitch, the first homer off him by a left-handed hitter in 79 at-bats during the regular and postseasons. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth drew consecutive walks to open the eighth.
“I was trying not to do too much, stroke a line drive,” Ibanez said. “Fortunately, I got it in the air and it carried out of the park.”
The Dodgers got two runs back in the bottom half on Russell Martin’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal. They had the tying runs at first and third with two outs, but Madson won a showdown when Ramirez grounded to third.
Kershaw retired five of the previous six batters he faced before the Phillies got to him. Ibanez led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch before Kershaw walked Pedro Feliz. Ruiz sent a 2-1 pitch into the “Mannywood” section in left field for a 3-1 lead.
Jimmy Rollins reached on a fielder’s choice, then advanced two bases on consecutive wild pitches. Chase Utley walked and Howard hit a two-run double, extending the Phillies’ lead to 5-1. Howard passed Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt with his 17th postseason RBI, most in Phillies’ history.
The Dodgers closed to 5-4 with three runs in the bottom half. Ramirez hit his first home run since Sept. 18, a drive into the left-field pavilion off Hamels. Martin, who led off with a double, scored on Andre Ethier’s grounder.
Ramirez’s RBIs gave him 78 in the postseason, putting him three away from breaking baseball’s career record of 80 by Bernie Williams.
Los Angeles threatened in the sixth, loading the bases on consecutive singles by Loney and Ronnie Belliard off Hamels and a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Jim Thome by J.A. Happ. But Happ retired Furcal on a grounder to end the inning.