The Washington Times - October 13, 2008, 12:03AM

By JAY LeBLANC
October 13, 2008

Dodgers 7, Phillies 2
Phillies lead series 2-1

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Back home and facing a 2-0 deficit in the National League Championship Series, the Dodgers put up five runs in the first and rode another strong postseason outing by Hiroki Kuroda to a 7-2 Game 3 victory. The 33-year-old Japanese import, who tossed 6 1/3 shutout innings to earn the win in the decisive Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs, improved to 2-0 this October by allowing two runs on five hits in six-plus innings of work. Blake DeWitt provided the big hit with a three-run triple during L.A.’s first-inning outburst against Phillies starter Jamie Moyer.

The first three L.A. hitters - Rafael Furcal, Andre Ethier and Manny Ramirez - all singled off Jamie Moyer in the bottom of the first, with Furcal coming around to score the first Dodgers run on Ramirez’ base knock. Moyer hit the next batter, Russell Martin, to load the bases, but then fanned Nomar Garciaparra for the first out. Casey Blake follwed with a single to right that drove home Ethier with the second Dodgers run. A strikeout of Matt Kemp put Moyer on the brink of minimizing the first-inning damage, but No. 8 hitter Blake DeWitt laced a three-run triple down the right-field line to make it 5-0 Dodgers before the Phillies lefty got Kuroda to ground out to end the frame.

The Phillies got on the board in the top of the second. Ryan Howard led off with a double to right and advanced to third on the second of two consecutive fly outs before coming home on a single to left-center by Pedro Feliz. The Dodgers got it right back in the bottom half of the frame on a solo shot by Rafael Furcal that made it 6-1 L.A. Moyer got the next batter, Ethier, to fly out, but was then lifted in favor of right-hander Clay Condrey. The 45-year-old departed with an ugly line of six runs, all earned, on six hits in 1 2/3 innings.

Tempers flared in the top of the third. With two outs, Shane Victorino was nearly hit in the head by a Kuroda pitch, possibly in retaliation for Brett Myers throwing behind Manny Ramirez in Game 2. Victorino angrily gestured toward Kuroda, indicating that if he was to be thrown at, he’d like the pitch aimed at his ribs rather than his head. After grounding out to first, Victorino continued his heated conversation about the near-beaning with Kuroda. Both benches emptied; no punches were thrown, but - with the exception of Victorino - Ramirez, Dodgers coach Mariano Duncan and Phillies coach Davey Lopes seemed the angriest. As a precautionary measure, several Dodgers escorted Ramirez back into the dugout to ensure his safety and continued good health.

The Dodgers pushed their seventh run across in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Phillies reliever J.A. Happ issued consecutive walks to Ramirez and Martin, and Garciaparra followed with a single to left. As Ramirez charged around third and headed for home, the Phillies cut off the throw and caught Martin between second and third to end the inning. By the time Martin was tagged, Ramirez had already crossed the plate to make it 7-1 Dodgers.

Kuroda cruised right up until the top of the seventh, when the Phillies opened the inning with three straight hits en route to their second run. Chase Utley doubled to start the inning and advaned to third on a single by Howard. Pat Burrell follwed with an infield single that scored Utley and ended Kuroda’s outing after six-plus stellar innings. Right-hander Cory Wade came in with runners on first and second and snuffed out the potential rally by fanning Jayson Werth, getting Feliz to fly out to center and retiring pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs on a grounder to short.

Wade stayed in the game and pitched a scoreless eighth before giving way to flame-throwing closer Jonathan Broxton, who pitched around a Werth single in the ninth to secure the much-needed victory for the Dodgers.

Now back in the series after dropping the first two in Philadelphia, the Dodgers will send Game 1 starter Derek Lowe to the mound tonight at Dodger Stadium. Lowe cruised through the first five innings of his Game 1 start before serving up sixth-inning gopher balls to Utley and Pat Burrell that gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead they’d never relinquish. Philadelphia will counter with right-hander Joe Blanton, who earned the win in the NLDS-clinching Game 4 against Milwaukee by tossing six innings of one-run ball. First pitch is scheduled for 8:22 p.m. EST.

With the series tied at a game apiece, the Red Sox will host the Rays in Game 3 of the ALCS this afternoon at 4:37 p.m. EST. Jon Lester will get the start for Terry Francona’s club, while Tampa Bay will counter with Matt Garza.

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and mayor of the National Pastime web community. He can be reached at jleblanc@washingtontimes.com.

Photos by The Associated Press