Dodgers, Broxton stung by Phils in ninth
Rollins laces walk-off double, putting L.A. in 3-1 hole
PHILADELPHIA -- With the starting rotation scrambled and the offense scuffling, the Dodgers made it a trifecta collapse on Monday night when closer Jonathan Broxton blew a save, which put Los Angeles in a difficult spot against the Phillies.
Jimmy Rollins hit a two-run walk-off double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning for a stunning 5-4 victory, turning what appeared to be a deadlocked series into a commanding 3-1 Phillies lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
Sounds kinda familiar, huh? A year earlier, also in Game 4 of the NLCS, Broxton served up a two-run homer to Matt Stairs for a loss that also gave the Phillies a 3-1 advantage.
"All we have to do is win three in a row," said Dodgers Game 4 starter Randy Wolf, who was one out away from picking up a win against his former team.
"No matter how you spin it, when you're that close, it hurts. You feel stunned. It's not a good feeling and you've just got to move on. It's always tough to swallow. Now we have the opportunity to make something magical happen."
With the Dodgers facing elimination by the Phillies in Game 5 for the second consecutive year, the teams take a break with a workout day Tuesday. The series resumes Wednesday, the Dodgers sending the hot hand of Vicente Padilla against Cole Hamels.
"We're going to show up here the day after tomorrow, there's no question," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "They'll be ready to play."
But it will take something really magical for the Dodgers to turn this series around, having now lost all four postseason games at Citizens Bank Park in the past two years.
Only two teams have recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win an NLCS -- the 1996 Braves (against St. Louis) and the 2003 Marlins (against the Cubs). The most recent successful rebound in any LCS was the 2007 Red Sox (against the Indians).
What made this loss extra bitter is that the Dodgers did just about everything right until the last 99-mph pitch. Wolf, having been demoted from Game 1 starter of the NL Division Series to Game 4 of the NLCS, rebounded from a first-inning two-run homer by Ryan Howard to get into the sixth inning.
PERFECTLY TIMED STREAK
|Series||After Gm 4||Gm 5||Gm 6||Gm 7|
|'07 ALCS||CLE, 3-1||BOS, 7-1||BOS, 12-2||BOS, 11-2|
|'04 ALCS||NYY, 3-1||BOS, 5-4||BOS, 4-2||BOS, 10-3|
|'03 NLCS||CHC, 3-1||FLA, 4-0||FLA, 8-3||FLA, 9-6|
|'96 NLCS||STL, 3-1||ATL, 14-0||ATL, 3-1||ATL, 15-0|
|'86 ALCS||CAL, 3-1||BOS, 7-6||BOS, 10-4||BOS, 8-1|
|'85 ALCS||TOR, 3-1||KC, 2-0||KC, 5-3||KC, 6-2|
Matt Kemp had put the Dodgers ahead with a two-out homer in the fifth after fourth-inning RBI singles by James Loney and Russell Martin. Casey Blake's first RBI of the series in the sixth inning stood as the decisive run and Manny Ramirez, of all people, made a potentially game-saving catch.
So following the Torre playbook, the one-run lead was turned over to the Dodgers' most potent weapon this year, the bullpen.
Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo combined to strand a pair of runners inherited from Wolf in the sixth. Kuo pitched a clean seventh, but George Sherrill followed and created enough of a mess -- even with a strikeout of Howard -- that Torre brought in Broxton with two on and two outs in the eighth to get Jayson Werth on a fly ball to end the threat.
Broxton converted 36-of-42 save opportunities during the season and was 2-for-2 in the postseason before Monday night. Seven times he was asked to get a four-out save, and he was 7-for-7 in those situations, and he started the ninth by getting Raul Ibanez on a grounder.
But then pinch-hitter Stairs, who homered to beat Broxton in the playoffs last year, walked on four 99-mph fastballs.
"I wasn't going to give him a fastball down the middle," said Broxton.
Dodgers killer Carlos Ruiz was next, and Broxton, who hit only one other batter all season, hit Ruiz with the first pitch. Pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs lined out softly to Blake at third, and up came Rollins, who fouled off the first pitch, took the second outside and squared up the third, splitting the gap between right and center as the ball rolled to the fence.
"Really, it was funny, right before he threw it, I'd say, 'Hit a ball in the right-center field gap,'" Rollins said. "Kemp was playing me slightly to left-center. [Andre] Ethier was squeezing. I was like, 'Hit the ball in the gap right over Broxton's head. That's at least one run.' And it went all the way to the fence, so we were able to get two and a victory."
The Dodgers were 78-3 during the regular season when they took a lead into the ninth inning.
"It was a fastball on the outer third," Broxton said. "He put some good wood on it. We played a good game and let it get away in the ninth."
Had the Dodgers hung on, it would have been quite a rebound from the previous night, when Hiroki Kuroda couldn't get out of the second inning and the Dodgers were humiliated, 11-0.
In a replay of the start of Game 3, the Phillies came out swinging. Rollins lined Wolf's first pitch for a single. Two outs later, Wolf didn't get a 2-1 pitch to Howard called a strike by home-plate umpire Ted Barrett. Instead of a 2-2 pitch, Wolf threw a 3-1 pitch that Howard turned around and rocketed into the right-field seats. As Howard circled the bases, Wolf talked to Barrett about his strike zone.
But overall, Wolf restored order. After Howard's homer, he retired the next 12 batters. He was charged with three runs in 5 1/3 innings.
Joe Blanton retired the first 10 Dodgers for the Phillies, but they got even in the fourth. Kemp walked with one out. Shane Victorino ran down Ethier's fly on the warning track in left-center, then Ramirez singled Kemp to third and Loney singled home Kemp. Ronnie Belliard walked to load the bases and Martin singled home Ramirez to tie the game.
In the top of the sixth, a Pedro Feliz throwing error and bloop single by Belliard were cashed in with an RBI flare single by Blake, who was 1-for-13 in the series until the hit.
But in the bottom of the inning with one out, Victorino tripled into the left-field corner, Ramirez missing cutoff man Rafael Furcal to eliminate any chance of an out at third. Chase Utley followed with an RBI single. When Wolf walked Howard, he was relieved by Belisario.
Belisario got what appeared a difficult double-play grounder from Werth to Blake, but Belliard dropped the throw on the transfer from his glove and the inning was extended with runners on the corners. And that's when Ramirez came to the rescue, snagging Ibanez's sinking liner next to his left shoe top.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.