Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Raul Ibanez’s first career postseason home run gave the Phillies the breathing room they needed, as the defending World Series champions held on to knock off Los Angeles, 8-6, in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium.
In a rematch of last season’s National League Championship Series, the Phillies used two three-run home runs, the first by catcher Carlos Ruiz in a five-run fifth and the second by Ibanez in the eighth to thwart any chance of a Dodgers comeback.
“I faced him (George Sherrill) in the American League a little bit and obviously played together with him for a long time in Seattle. So you know, you’re definitely not trying to do too much. He’s tough. He’s a tough pitcher. He’s tough on left-handers. You’re trying to do less, and a lot of times in this game less is more,” Ibanez said of his approach during the at-bat versus Sherrill.
Cole Hamels (1-1) worked through 5 1/3 frames, giving up four runs on eight hits and Brad Lidge saved his third game of the postseason in as many opportunities. It wasn’t easy as Matt Kemp singled before Casey Blake grounded into a double play. After a walk, Lidge induced a Ronnie Belliard pop out to end the game.
Andre Ethier went 3-for-5 and James Loney finished 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a home run for the Dodgers. Manny Ramirez belted a two-run homer for the Dodgers, but grounded out to end the eighth inning, leaving runners on the corners.
Clayton Kershaw (0-1), the youngest starter in League Championship Series history at 21 years of age, gave up five runs on four hits with five walks in 4 2/3 frames to absorb the loss.
“Tonight was a prize fight. We just came up a little bit short. The walks were a little bit tough to overcome,” said Dodgers manager Joe Torre.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Friday afternoon at Dodger Stadium as Pedro Martinez takes the ball for the Phillies versus former Phillie Vicente Padilla for the Dodgers.
“Any time you are on the road, the first game is big to win. If you win the first one on the road, it sets up tomorrow’s game,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.
Loney started the scoring with a solo shot in the second, as the Phillies struggled to figure out the young Dodger southpaw in the early innings.
After four nearly flawless frames, Kershaw showed his age — and the Phillies took advantage — in the fifth. Ibanez started with a single to left before Pedro Feliz worked a four-pitch walk, one of three walks issued by the southpaw in the inning.
Ruiz then worked a favorably count and turned on an up-and-in fastball, shooting a rocket into the left-field seats tight to the line for a three-run shot. Kershaw, visibly shaken by the long ball, promptly threw four straight balls to the opposing pitcher before Jimmy Rollins replaced Hamels with a force out. Shane Victorino then struck out on a wild pitch — one of three thrown in the frame by Kershaw — and Chase Utley walked in an at-bat that saw Rollins take third on another wild pitch. The fifth frame marked the first inning in League Championship Series history that included three walks and three wild pitches.
Ryan Howard clubbed a middle-in mistake, drilling a fastball down into the right-field corner for a two-run double and a 5-1 lead. In the process, the first baseman passed Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt for first place on the team’s all-time postseason RBI list with 18.
The Dodgers showed resiliency and battled back in the home half. Russell Martin found open real estate for a double that one-hopped over the short porch in left. Rafael Furcal won a long battle with a one-out single then Ethier rolled what could have been a double-play ball to Rollins, who initially had trouble getting it out of the webbing. The trouble caused timing issues for Utley, who airmailed the toss to first into the dugout as Martin scored for a 5-2 game.
Ramirez then stepped in and drilled a low change-up deep into the left-center field seats for a 5-4 game.
Los Angeles again made things difficult in the home sixth, loading the bases and pushing Hamels to the showers. Loney and Belliard singled and pinch-hitter Jim Thome walked, however, J.A. Happ bared down and got Furcal to ground out to second to push aside the threat.
Ethier led off the Dodgers seventh with a double to right, but Chan Ho Park entered and mowed through three straight, including Ramirez, to keep the Phillies up one.
The Phillies lefties then worked up some trouble against lefty-specialist Sherrill in the eighth. Howard worked a walk then Jayson Werth took a free pass in front of Ibanez, who jumped on a first-pitch curveball and hit it just over the right-field wall for a three-run shot and an 8-4 lead.
Yet, once again, the Dodgers put the pressure on the Philly bullpen. Ryan Madson yielded successive singles to Loney, Belliard and Martin, the last scoring a run for an 8-5 game. Pinch-hitter Juan Pierre chopped into a force out and Furcal hit a sacrifice fly before Ethier’s single to right put runners on the corners with two away. Madson then got Ramirez to ground out to third to end the frame with an 8-6 advantage.
Park, who last appeared on September 16th, reached 96 miles per hour in retiring all three batters he faced…The Dodgers and Phillies are meeting for the fifth time in the NLCS, splitting the previous four meetings…Hamels gave up four runs after surrendering just five in four previous games (30 innings) versus the Dodgers. He entered the game with a 1.50 earned run average in his career versus Los Angeles…Kershaw was the third-youngest pitcher to start the first game of any postseason series. St. Louis’ Rick Ankiel in the 2000 National League Division Series versus Atlanta (21 years, 77 days) and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela in the 1981 National League Division Series versus Houston (20 years, 339 days) were younger…Ramirez is now just three RBI shy of breaking baseball’s all-time postseason RBI record. Bernie Williams holds the record with 80…Ruiz was 8-of-14 versus the Dodgers in the regular season then went 2-for-3 on Thursday…The winner of Game 1 has won 14 of the last 17 National League Division Series…The team with home field advantage has lost five of the last seven NLDS…Attendance 56,000.
—Via Sports Network