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Rollins’ Walk-Off Double Gives Phillies 3 Games to 1 Lead Over Dodgers

       
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                         Jimmy Rollins

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins came to bat with runners on 1st and 2nd base with 2 outs in the ninth and lined Los Angeles closer Jonathan Broxton’s 1-1 pitch for a 2 run game-winning double to right centerfield as the Dodgers blew a 4-2 lead.  Phils closer Brad Lidge won his first game of 2009 pitching striking out 2 in the ninth as Rollins’ walkoff double gave the Phillies a 5-4 win and a 3 games to 1 lead over the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr best sums up the feelings of all Phillies fans on another clutch October playoff win:

Never doubt this team.  The Phillies were down to their last out, but another clutch hit led to another stunning victory.

Rollins was deservedly mobbed by his teammates, but the bullpen deserves some credit too.  The ‘pen threw three scoreless innings.  Brad Lidge earned the win, striking out two batters in 2/3 of an inning.

This game will go down as one of the most unbelievable endings in postseason history.

The Phils jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead as Rollins led off with a single off of Dodger starter and former Phils lefthander Randy Wolf.  After center-fielder Shane Victorino and 2nd baseman Chase Utley both popped out, Wolf fell behind 1st baseman Ryan Howard by a 3-1 count. Howard bombed Wolf’s next pitch to rightfield to give the Phils the early lead.  Howard’s homer gave him eight straight postseason games driving in at least one run, tying Lou  Gehrig’s seven decades-old major league record.

Meanwhile, Phils starter Joe Blanton breezed through the 1st three innings and into the fourth retiring the first 10 hitters he faced before the Dodgers tied the score in the fourth.  Blanton got the first 2 outs of the inning issuing a walk to centerfielder Matt Kemp in-between.  But then leftfielder Manny Ramirez singled with Kemp reaching 3rd base. Ramirez went 1 for 4 for the game but scored 2 runs.  1st baseman James Loney singled to right driving in Kemp with Ramirez moving to 2nd base.  Blanton walked 2nd baseman Ronnie Belliard and catcher Russell Martin singled to leftfield driving in Ramirez — game tied at 2-2.

With 2 outs in the fifth, Kemp slammed Blanton’s 2-0 pitch out to centerfield to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead and 3rd baseman Casey Blake ripped a 2 out sixth inning RBI single to rightfield driving in Ramirez with the 4th run after Manny opened the inning reaching on a throwing error by 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz.

The Phils pulled to within 4-3 as Victorino slammed a 1 out triple to leftfield and scored 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s RBI single to rightfield.   The seventh inning and top of the eighth passed uneventfully as both starters gave way to the bullpens.

The Phillies threatened in bottom of the eighth inning as Dodger reliever  George Sherrill hit Victorino with a pitch with 1 out.  The Flyin’ Hawaiian advanced to 2nd base on a wild pitch as Sherrill later walked Utley.  But Sherrill struck out Howard and then gave way to closer Broxton who retired rightfielder Jayson Werth on a fly to rightfield to retire the side and end the threat.

Lefthanded reliever Scott Eyre opened the ninth by inducing a foul out for the 1st out before walking shortstop Rafael Furcal.  With the runner on 1st base, manager Manuel went to closer Lidge who struck out Kemp and rightfielder  Andre Eithier to end the inning setting up Rollins’ game-winning heroics in the bottom of the ninth.

AP reporter Rob Maaddi recaps the Phillies’ ninth for Yahoo sports:

Trailing 4-3, the Phillies started their rally with one out in the ninth when pinch-hitter Matt Stairs walked on four pitches against Broxton. Stairs hit a two-run homer off Broxton in Game 4 of the NLCS last year at Dodger Stadium.

Broxton hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch, but pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs looped a soft liner to third for the second out.

Rollins, just 3 for 18 in the series to that point, ripped a 99 mph fastball to right-center and the ball rolled to the wall. Andre Ethier’s throw toward the infield was high and off line, and Ruiz slid home without a play.

Rollins pointed in the air as he rounded second and got mobbed by teammates at third base. Even Jamie Moyer, who just had surgery on his lower abdomen, limped out and joined the celebration.

“I’m all right. I had to curl up in the fetal position and throw some punches of my own,” Rollins said before taking a cream pie in the face from a teammate.

And so the Phillies now stand 1 win away from a return appearance in the World Series.  Ironically, Lidge, who blew 11 saves during the regular season, has been golden in the post-season and registered his first win of 2009.  Broxton was hung with a loss and a blown save.

The boxscores for Monday’s league championship games in both leagues can be found here.

Both teams have Tuesday off before Wednesday’s rematch between lefthanders and Cole Hamels and Clayton Kershaw in what may be the decisive, series-clinching 5th game, the 3rd of the 3 games at Citizens Bank Park.

The schedules for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s league championship games in both leagues can be found here and here.

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