Well-rested ace lefthander Cole Hamels tossed seven fine innings, 2nd baseman Chase Utley and leftfielder Pat Burrell hit homers off of Derek Lowe in a 3 run sixth inning and Ryan Madson and closer Brad Lidge easily shut the door in the eighth and ninth innings as the Phillies edged the Dodgers by a 3-2 score in game one of the NLCS.
But amidst all of the media hype about Hamels’ pitching performance and the 2 homer, 3 run Phillies’s sixth inning, there were two factors in this game that spelled victory for the Phillies.
One was Hamels’ stickwork in the fifth inning following catcher Carlos Ruiz’s 2 out single to rightfield with one of his own right centerfield as Lowe needed 18 pitches to retire the Phils, 13 pitches just to get the final out. After 15 more Lowe pitches in the sixth inning, the Phils had a 3-2 lead. He obviously seemed rattled by Hamels’ single, only the 4th hit he gave up. It apparently led to Lowe’s demise.
The 2nd factor was the absence of Manny Ramirez in impacting on the Dodger offense, despite his 2 for 4 game.
While Manny’s first inning double, which was just short of being a 2 run homer, drove in rightfielder Andre Ethier who preceded him with a double, the inability of leadoff hitter shortstop Rafael Furcal and Ethier set up Ramirez through the remainder of the game, as well as his own pop out with a runner on and 1 out in the fourth were testament to Hamels’ mound performance in containing the main cog of the Dodger offense to earn his 2nd career post-season win.
As noted, the Dodgers notched their first run in the first and added another in the fourth as centerfielder Matt Kemp led off with a ground-rule double, advanced to 3rd on 3rd baseman Casey Blake’s ground out to shortstop. Kemp then scored on 2nd baseman Blake DeWitt’s fly out to centerfield.
Lowe held the Phils in near total check until centerfielder Shane Victorino took 2nd on a two-base throwing error by shortstop Furcal. Utley wasted no time in blasting Lowe’s very next pitch way out to rightfield. After 1st baseman Ryan Howard grounded out, Burrell took Lowe to a 3-1 count before blistering a solo shot to the leftfield stands to give the Phils the lead which held as Hamels, Madson and Lidge shut the Dodgers down totally in the seventh, eighth and ninth.
AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi notes for Yahoo sports;;
Burrell is in the final season of a $50 million, six-year contract and it’s uncertain whether the Phillies will bring him back. The way he’s swinging now, he won’t have a hard time finding a home.
Despite Burrell’s cold spells during the season, he with Utley were big factors in the Phillies’ early season run, was a factor in their late-season surge and has been big thus far in the playoffs with 5 for 15 including 3 homers and 5 RBIs. And next to Ramirez, Burrell seems a bargain.
To his credit, Lowe pitched well in a losing cause but had no margin for error thanks to an offense shut down by Phils’ pitching.
Friday marks Pat Burrell’s 32nd birthday. Here’s hoping that “The Bat” has a Birthday blast (or two, or more) on Chad Billingsley on the way to a commanding 2-0 lead in this NLCS. The last time these teams met in post-season play in 1983, the Phils won by a 3-1 margin in games in what was then a best of 5 series. The Phils had previously lost to the Dodgers in NLCS by identical 3-1 margins in 1977 and 1978.
Game 2 pits Brett Myers against Chad Billingsley in another BiG Money game for Myers. The teams have a travel day on Saturday before 45 year old veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer opposes rookie Hiroki Kuroda in game 3 in Los Angeles on Sunday.