The Washington Times - October 22, 2009, 01:00AM

The Philadelphia Phillies are headed back to the World Series, despite the fact that their once-invincible bullpen is beatable again and Cole Hamels, last year’s World Series MVP, hasn’t come close to matching that form.

But this lineup is good enough to beat just about anybody; it’s certainly good enough to beat anybody in the National League.


And now, the Phillies have.

They clinched their second straight NL title with a 10-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night, taking the NLCS in five games. The Phillies hit four home runs, three of them coming from a pair of Dodgers castoffs that really make this lineup dangerous from top to bottom — center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth.

Victorino, a former Rule 5 pick that the Dodgers decided they didn’t want when the Phillies offered him back, hit the final home run. And Werth, who signed for $850,000 in 2006, hit two, including a three-run blast in the first inning.

“I told Jayson Werth at the All-Star Game that he was a pain in the ass, and he took that the way I meant it, as a compliment, because he’s a tough competitor,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Werth had a career year, and Victorino continued to emerge as one of the game’s most disruptive top-of-the-order threats. Those two, coupled with the addition of Raul Ibanez, have made the Phillies’ lineup the best in the NL and one of the only ones capable of slugging like an American League team.

“If you look down through our lineup, we’ve got guys that are dangerous, and our power shows up, even in our seventh hole,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “When we’ve got everything going, the top of our lineup with (Jimmy) Rollins and Victorino — and (Chase) Utley is a tremendous baserunner — and Werth can run. When we’ve got our speed going and these guys are getting on base, that’s how we generate a lot of runs.”

The Phillies will most likely get the Yankees in the World Series, and if that’s the matchup, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. You’ll have two deep lineups, two impassioned fanbases that will have no trouble drumming up hatred for one another, a pair of aces (and former teammates) likely dueling in Game 1 in Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia. Oh, and Pedro Martinez will face the Yankees again.

It’s not as sexy as Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez against the Yankees, but it could turn out to be a better series. New York still needs to take care of business tomorrow night, but assuming it’s Phillies-Yankees, I think we could be in for a classic.