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Dodgers Lose Battle of the Bullpens

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The Dodgers walked seven Phillies, four of which would end up scoring.

Offensively the Dodgers went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and leaving 10 runners on base while the Phillies went 3-for-5 with RISP with five runners left of base.

Mistakes hurt teams more in the postseason. All of that was evident in the Phillies 8-6 victory over the Dodgers in the game one slugfest of the National League Championship Series.

The game started on a good note for the boys in blue when James Loney gave the Dodgers quick 1-0 lead off of Phillies starter Cole Hamels in the second inning leading off with a solo homer to right field.

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Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw breezed in the early going of the game even picking off Shane Victorino in the first inning.

Victorino invited a throw to first base during Chase Utley’s at-bat taking huge leads off of first. Kershaw refused to take the bait and lulled Victorino to sleep. Like a snake darting at its prey Kershaw bit before making a pitch to Ryan Howard.

However the signs of Clayton Kershaw coming unhinged came in the fourth inning during Ryan Howard’s at-bat with two outs. After a 2-2 count, Kershaw pitched a fastball which had Ryan Howard attempt to check his swing. The third base umpire Ted Barrett called it a no-swing giving Howard new life.

After Howard fouled off another pitch Kershaw threw a slider low and away that looked like a strike but was ruled a ball sending Howard to first base.

Although he would get out of the inning getting Jayson Werth to line out to left field the repercussions of Howard’s at-bat would be pronounced in the fifth inning.

“I didn’t talk to him about that,” manager Joe Torre said. “I was very comfortable watching him early in the game. He threw a lot of strikes.”

But that fifth inning is when everything exploded. Three walks, a single, double and a three-run home run with five runs crossing giving the Phillies a 5-1 lead. What more can you say? After Kershaw gave up the two-RBI double to Ryan Howard that was the end of the road for him.

Steve Edwards’ worst fears came true: Torre left the starter in the game for too long.

“I mean, I had guys warming up,” Torre explained. “Certainly unexpected.

“You know, to me he’s a starting pitcher in game one, so I felt that that’s what I needed to do.”

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Torre finally went to the bullpen brining Ramon Troncoso in to get Werth to fly out to left field.

However the Dodgers would show some fight in them in the bottom half of the inning.

With Russell Martin on third and Rafael Furcal on first with one out, Ethier grounded into what should have been a double play. The Phillies managed to get the force out at second, but Chase Utley threw the relay into the Phillies first-base dugout allowing Martin to score and Ethier to go to second.

Manny Ramirez came up and then belted a home run to center field getting the Dodgers to within 5-4.

By the sixth inning, the game became the Battle of the Bullpens. The dominance of the Dodgers bullpen which had been the story leading into the series came up with an epic fail thanks mostly to George Sherrill.

Sherrill came into the eighth inning and gave up back-to-back walks to Howard and Werth. Raul Ibanez would make Sherrill pay by hitting and Earl Weaver to put the Phillies up 8-4, his first postseason homer.

“I’m really thinking not trying to do too much,” Ibanez said of his at-bat. “He’s tough on lefthanders. You’re trying to do less, and a lot of times in this game less is more.”

“I think that was a shock for everybody,” Torre commented on Sherrill’s outing. “Especially the walks which really hasn’t been something that he has done a lot of.”

But the back end of the Phillies bullpen is notoriously suspect. In the bottom of the eighth with Ryan Madson relieving the Dodgers responded when Martin hit an RBI single after Loney and Ronny Belliard hit back-to-back singles. After pinch hitter Juan Pierre grounded into a fielder’s choice, Furcal hit a sacrifice fly scoring Belliard cutting the lead to 8-6.

However Madson would get out of the eighth inning, and the shaky Brad Lidge would close the door in ninth with the save despite giving up a single to Kemp and a walk to Loney.

“They were aggressive, and we were too,” Torre said of the bullpen showdown. “Madson has great stuff, and Brad [Lidge] does too. I just thought we had very good at-bats.”

“Any time that Brad Lidge gets people out, especially in big moments, I think it’s good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “Madson had to go down to Manny Ramirez, and when he got him out, he did a tremendous job.”

For the Dodgers, the walks were a huge issue.

“Tonight was a prize fight,” Torre said. “We just came up a little bit short. We had a number of hits. We had a number of opportunities and hit some balls hard, but seven walks is a little bit tough to overcome.”

Tomorrow for the Dodgers, Vicente Padilla will match up against for Dodger Pedro Martinez at 1:07 pm.