By JAY LeBLANC
October 16, 2008
Phillies 5, Dodgers 1
Phillies win series 4-1
Cole Hamels tossed seven innings of one-run ball to pick up his second win of the National League Championship Series - as well as series MVP honors - as the visiting Phillies topped the Dodgers 5-1 in Game 4 to advance to the World Series for the first time since 1993. Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a solo shot off L.A.’s Chad Billingsley, who lasted just 2 2/3 innings and surrendered the first three Phillies runs. Philadelphia tacked on two more runs in the third on RBI singles by Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell and pulled away with a two-run fifth that was fueled by three errors by Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Rollins, the reigning National League MVP, worked the count full against Billingsley before taking him deep to right for a leadoff homer that gave Philly a 1-0 lead. Philadelphia added two more runs in the third. Rollins worked a one-out walk and stole second base. Jayson Werth fanned for the second out, but Chase Utley drew a walk of his own to put runners on first and second. Ryan Howard followed with a single to right that scored Rollins to make it 2-0. Pat Burrell then singled to right to score Utley with the third Phillies run, with Howard moving to third. Billingsley departed after intentionally walking Shane Victorino to load the bases, and reliever Chan Ho Park got Pedro Feliz to ground out to end the inning.
The Phillies extended their lead to 5-0 in the fifth with a lot of help from Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal. Werth singled to left off Greg Maddux and was then retired on an Utley fielder’s choice. After Howard singled to put runners on first and second with one out, Burrell hit a ground ball that Furcal mishandled and then kicked into shallow left. As Utley raced around to score, Furcal compounded his mistake by sailing a throw over the head of Dodgers catcher Russell Martin - his second error of the play - to allow Howard to move up to third and Burrell to second. Maddux then issued an intentional walk to Victorino before fanning Feliz for the second out. Carlos Ruiz followed by hitting what should have been an inning-ending grounder to Furcal, who threw wildly to first for his third error of the inning, allowing Howard to come home with the fifth Phillies run. Maddux retired Hamels on a grounder to first to end Furcal’s nightmare frame.
The Dodgers finally put a run on the board in the sixth when Manny Ramirez - who may very well have been playing his last game in a Dodgers uniform - continued his fine postseason by slugging a solo shot off the ace lefty to make it 5-1 Phillies, but that’s all L.A. would get. Hamels was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the top of the eighth after tossing seven innings of one-run ball to improve to 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA this postseason. Righty Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless eighth inning before giving way to closer Brad Lidge, who worked around a leadoff single by James Loney to close out the victory and send the Phillies to the World Series.
The Dodgers’ magical, Manny-driven late season run comes to a screeching halt, while Phillies now await the winner of the American League Championship Series between the Rays and Red Sox. Tampa Bay currently holds a 3-1 advantage in the series, which resumes tonight at Fenway Park with first pitch scheduled for 8:07 p.m. EST. Game 1 winner Daisuke Matsuzaka will try to extend the Red Sox’ season, while Tampa will counter with lefty Scott Kazmir, who allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings to take a no-decision in Game 2. Regardless of which team wins the ALCS, the American League champion will host Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night because the Junior Circuit won this summer’s All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and mayor of the National Pastime web community. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.