Homer-Happy Phillies Dump Dodgers 8-6 in Game 1 of NLCS

Homer-Happy Phillies Dump Dodgers 8-6 in Game 1 of NLCS LOS ANGELES — Brad Lidge and the
Philadelphia Phillies picked up where they left off a year ago against
the Dodgers in the NL championship series.

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit
three-run homers, reliever Ryan Madson got a key out and Lidge finished
the Phillies' 8-6 victory over Los Angeles in Game 1 Thursday night.

Manny Ramirez homered, but grounded
out weakly with two runners on against a struggling Madson to end the
Dodgers' two-run rally in the eighth. They stranded 10 runners in the
game.

"It's like a prize fight, we just came up a little short," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

Lidge then worked around a single and
a walk in the ninth, helped by a double play that made him for 3-for-3
in save chances this postseason — he posted three saves against the
Dodgers in last year's NLCS.

Lidge was perfect in save tries last
season when the Phillies won the World Series, but led the majors with
11 blown opportunities this year.

"The Dodgers are a great team. They
come from behind a lot so you take everyone seriously," he said.
"Honestly, for some reason I've really been locked in this postseason.
I felt really good mechanically. I feel like myself. I feel pretty
comfortable right now."

Home runs dominated on both sides in
a game that lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes. Ruiz highlighted a five-run
burst in the fifth and Ibanez homered in the eighth for an 8-4 lead.

James Loney also connected for the Dodgers. Ramirez, baseball's all-time postseason home run leader with 29, hit a two-run shot.

Los Angeles will start Vicente Padilla against Philadelphia's Pedro Martinez on Friday afternoon in Game 2.

Philadelphia's Cole Hamels thrived
under pressure last October, earning NLCS and World Series MVP honors.
But the left-hander hardly resembled the same pitcher in earning the
victory, giving up eight hits and four runs in 5 1/3 innings.

It was his first outing since he
left the ballpark in the division series against Colorado to be with
his wife as she prepared to give birth.

At 21 years and 211 days, Clayton
Kershaw
was the youngest pitcher ever to start a Game 1 in a league
championship series, and it showed.

The Dodgers lefty was tagged for
five runs in the fifth, when he set a LCS record for most wild pitches
in an inning with three. He also tied the record for most wild pitches
in a LCS game, shared by Tommy John and Juan Guzman.

Kershaw allowed four hits in 4 2/3
innings and walked five in his second career postseason start. He
worked out of the bullpen in last year's NLCS, which the Dodgers lost
4-1 to the Phillies. He was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against
them during the regular season.

"It looked like he tried to
overthrow the ball, got frustrated out there. Unfortunately, it got
away from him quickly," Torre said. "As far as the pressure of the
game, he certainly can handle it, but sometimes things get away from
you."

The Dodgers' usually solid bullpen
couldn't contain the Phils. George Sherrill, their fourth reliever of
the game, gave up Ibanez's homer on the first pitch, the first homer
off him by a left-handed hitter in 79 at-bats during the regular and
postseasons. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth drew consecutive walks to
open the eighth.

"I was trying not to do too much,
stroke a line drive," Ibanez said. "Fortunately, I got it in the air
and it carried out of the park."

The Dodgers got two runs back in the
bottom half on Russell Martin's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by
Rafael Furcal. They had the tying runs at first and third with two
outs, but Madson won a showdown when Ramirez grounded to third.

Kershaw retired five of the previous
six batters he faced before the Phillies got to him. Ibanez led off
with a single and took second on a wild pitch before Kershaw walked
Pedro Feliz. Ruiz sent a 2-1 pitch into the "Mannywood" section in left
field for a 3-1 lead.

Jimmy Rollins reached on a fielder's
choice, then advanced two bases on consecutive wild pitches. Chase
Utley
walked and Howard hit a two-run double, extending the Phillies'
lead to 5-1. Howard passed Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt with his 17th
postseason RBI, most in Phillies history.

The Dodgers closed to 5-4 with three
runs in the bottom half. Ramirez hit his first home run since Sept. 18,
a drive into the left-field pavilion off Hamels. Martin, who led off
with a double, scored on Andre Ethier's grounder.

Ramirez's RBIs gave him 78 in the
postseason, putting him three away from breaking baseball's career
record of 80 by Bernie Williams.

Los Angeles threatened in the sixth,
loading the bases on consecutive singles by Loney and Ronnie Belliard
off Hamels and a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Jim Thome by J.A. Happ.
But Happ retired Furcal on a grounder to end the inning.

Loney got his first RBI of this
postseason when he drove Hamels' 2-1 pitch just over the right-field
fence leading off the second, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.

Notes
Kershaw allowed two runs in 6
2/3 innings for a no-decision a week ago against St. Louis in the
division series. … First pitches were thrown by three-fourths of the
storied Dodgers infield of Steve Garvey, Bill Russell and Ron Cey, who
played on the 1981 World Series champion team. Davey Lopes, now a coach
for the Phillies, declined to join them. … Billy Ray Cyrus sang an a
capella version of the national anthem. … Dodger Stadium organist
Nancy Bea Hefley will sign a three-year deal to stay on through the
2012 season, her 25th with the club.

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