The Washington Times - October 2, 2008, 01:48AM

By JAY LeBLANC
October 2, 2008

Dodgers 7, Cubs 2
Dodgers lead series 1-0

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James Loney’s two-out grand slam in the top of the fifth off Cubs starter Ryan Dempster erased a 2-0 deficit and gave the Dodgers a lead they would never relinquish as L.A. went on to take Game 1 by a 7-2 score. The loss came as a shock to the Cubs - who went 55-26 at Wrigley Field in the regular season - and their All-Star starter - who was 14-3 at home in 2008 - but was probably less surprising to their long-suffering fans.

The Cubs jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the second when Mark DeRosa followed a Jim Edmonds single with a two-run blast to right off Dodgers starter Derek Lowe. However, Lowe settled down after that and held the Cubs scoreless over the next four frames before giving way to the bullpen. Cory Wade took over for Lowe in the seventh and held the Cubs scoreless in his inning of work, and Jonathan Broxton kept the Cubs off the board the rest of the way to secure the victory.

Loney’s grand slam proved to be all the offense L.A. would need, but the Dodgers added single insurance runs in each of the final three frames nonetheless. Manny Ramirez slugged a solo shot off Cubs reliever Sean Marshall in the seventh, and Casey Blake chipped in with an RBI single the following inning. Russell Martin closed out the scoring with a solo homer in the ninth off Jason Marquis.

Carlos Zambrano will try to get the Cubs back on track in Game 2, which kicks off tonight at 9:35 p.m. EST. Big Z struggled mightily in the two starts following his Sept. 14 no-hitter against the Astros, coughing up 13 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings while fanning just three. 16-game winner Chad Billingsley will take the hill for Joe Torre’s club.

 

Red Sox 4, Angels 1
Red Sox lead series 1-0

Jason Bay’s two-out, two-run bomb off John Lackey in the top of the sixth proved to be all the offense the Red Sox would need as they took their 10th straight postseason game against the Angels by a 4-1 score. Boston starter Jon Lester earned the victory by tossing seven innings and allowing just an unearned run on six hits while fanning seven. Lackey was nearly as good, allowing just the two runs from Bay’s blast over 6 2/3 innings of work, but took the loss after the Red Sox bullpen shut down the Halos’ offense.

The Angels took the early lead in the third inning. With two outs and Garret Anderson - who had singled - on first base, Red Sox shortstop Jed Lowrie booted a ground ball off the bat of the Angels’ Vladimir Guerrero, putting runners on first and second with Torii Hunter at the plate. Hunter dropped a soft liner just in front of Boston left fielder Bay to score Anderson and put the Angels up 1-0. The score remained the same until Bay’s sixth-inning homer put Boston up for good.

The Angels had a golden opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth against Red Sox rookie reliever Justin Masterson but failed to capitalize. With one out and Guerrero - who had singled - on first, Hunter blooped a single just over the head of Boston first baseman Kevin Youkilis. Guerrero unwisely tried to go from first to third and was easily cut down to effectively kill the threat. After Boston added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth on singles by Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, Jonathan Papelbon closed out the victory without incident.

Though they won 100 games in the regular season, the Angels are already in a must-win situation after just one playoff game. Their season would, for all intents and purposes, be over if they found themselves trailing in the series two games to none heading into Games 3 and 4 at Fenway, where the Red Sox were 56-25 this season. Mike Scioscia’s club will send Ervin Santana to the hill tomorrow in Game 2, while the Red Sox will counter with 18-game winner Daisuke Matsuzaka.

 

Phillies 3, Brewers 1
Phillies lead series 1-0

Ace lefty Cole Hamels fanned nine and allowed just two hits and a walk over eight shutout innings as the Phillies topped the visiting Brewers 3-1 to take a 1-0 lead in the teams’ best-of-five Division Series showdown. Hamels retired the first 14 Milwaukee hitters before conceding a two-out single to Corey Hart in the fifth. The closest the Brewers came to solving Hamels was when they put runners on first and second with one out in the sixth. Hamels killed the potential rally by fanning Bill Hall and getting Ryan Braun to pop out.

The Phillies provided Hamels with all the support he’d need with a three-run rally against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo in the third. After Carlos Ruiz singled to open the frame, Hamels laid down a sac bunt but reached when second baseman Rickie Weeks, who was covering first, dropped a routine throw from third baseman Hall. Gallardo retired the next two Phillies batters, but Chase Utley then doubled off the glove of center fielder Mike Cameron to plate Ruiz and Hamels and give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. After Gallardo intentionally walked Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell walked to load the bases. Shane Victorino then walked to force in Utley with the third Phillies run.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel opted for closer Brad Lidge in the ninth despite the fact that Hamels had thrown only 101 pitches through eight. Lidge K’d Cameron to open the inning but then allowed a single to Ray Durham, who had pinch-hit for Hall. Braun followed with a double to right, and Durham came around to score on an error by Utley. Lidge then fanned the dangerous Prince Fielder before walking J.J. Hardy. A wild pitch allowed Braun to move to third and Hardy - representing the tying run - to second, but Lidge struck out Hart to end it.

Once again, the Brewers will turn to ace CC Sabathia to get them out of a tight spot. The big lefty will be pitching on three days’ rest for the fourth consecutive time this evening when he faces off against Philly’s Brett Myers at 6:05 p.m. EST, and the Brew Crew needs him to come up big if they’re to avoid heading back to Milwaukee trailing two games to none. If CC comes through once again, the Brewers will be in good shape, needing just a split at home to put the ball back in Sabathia’s hands in a Game 5 showdown in Philly.

 

Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times and mayor of the National Pastime web community. He can be reached at [email protected]

Photo by The Associated Press