10/10/08 10:31 PM ET
Dodgers leave Philly down 0-2 in NLCS
Manny homers, but starter Billingsley exits after 2 1/3 innings
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Both struck out. Phillies starter Brett Myers had set the tone and the only Dodgers player to really respond was Ramirez, but even his three-run homer in the fourth inning wasn't enough to keep the Phillies from holding on to an 8-5 win in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series Friday.
Chad Billingsley couldn't get out of the third inning and the Dodgers couldn't get out of town with a win. They are 0-6 this year at Citizens Bank Park, swept in a four-game series in August, now swept again in the first two games of the best-of-seven series.
Since 1985, only the 1985 Cardinals, the 1985 Royals and the 2004 Red Sox have erased 0-2 deficits in a League Championship Series and advanced to the World Series. The Dodgers have trailed 0-2 in their past five postseasons, losing each time. They haven't trailed a best-of-seven series 0-2 and won since the 1981 World Series.
"Sometimes, when you're in that locker room and in that lineup, you tend to think things are worse than they are," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "You don't get to this time of year without having the capabilities of winning three or four games in a row. And we just have to just get that feel back, because we all know when you're playing five-game, seven-game series, momentum is such a huge factor and one game is really all we have to think about at this point in time and that's what we'll do when we get home on Sunday [in Game 3]."
Although Myers allowed five runs in five innings, he also drove in three runs with three hits after getting only four hits during the regular season. He also rumbled from first to third on a bungled Dodgers defensive play in one of the Phillies' two four-run innings against Billingsley, turning his ankle in the process and staying in the game.
But it was the first-inning purpose pitches that had the Dodgers on edge, particularly with shadows making it hard for hitters to pick up the baseball, according to Torre. First-base coach Mariano Duncan complained to first-base umpire Mike Everitt about the pitch to Ramirez and Myers overheard the comment, responding by motioning toward his hand and later explaining that the pitch slipped.
2-0 advantage big in NLCS
|The Phillies became the 19th team in history to win the first two games of the NLCS. Of the clubs that have jumped out to a 2-0 lead, 16 of the 18 teams have ended up winning the series.|
|The League Championship Series was a best-of-five series from 1969-1985 and a best-of-seven series since.|
Ramirez deployed his own version of retaliation with a two-out, three-run homer in the fourth inning that barely cleared the left-field fence -- it wouldn't have been a homer in Dodger Stadium -- his Major League-record 27th postseason home run. But he also expressed admiration for Myers' competitiveness and hinted that Dodgers pitchers should try the strategy.
"He wanted to prove a point," Ramirez said. "I'd want a guy on my team to go out and battle like that."
Billingsley, in fact, said he tried to, but pitches that were intended to back Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth off the plate wound up being called third strikes.
"I wasn't doing it to retaliate, but I tried to come inside, but I couldn't get it in enough," he said. "I was having a hard time and that was my fault."
That made four strikeouts of the first six batters he faced and Billingsley appeared to be dealing just the way he did last week in Chicago in the NL Division Series, when he took his game to another level on the postseason stage.
Then suddenly, as Torre said, "the wheels came off." Ten of the next 12 batters reached base off Billingsley as the Phillies orchestrated a pair of four-run innings without the aid of a home run. Although former Dodgers farmhand Shane Victorino led the Phillies with four RBIs, the three by Myers were decisive.
"Very unexpected and certainly something that we certainly weren't prepared for," Torre said. "I'm sure he wasn't either. I think sometimes when he gets into a situation like that, he fights it and sometimes fights himself. And I think that may have been part of it. He gets ahead and wasn't able to put people away. And that may have unnerved him a little bit, but you have to sort of fix this thing while it's going on."
Myers' first hit came in that second inning, a lined RBI single to center that broke a 1-1 tie. Jimmy Rollins followed with a chopper up the middle that Matt Kemp fumbled when he saw Myers inexplicably make a left turn at second base and head to third.
"When I saw him running, I kind of rushed it and bobbled the ball," Kemp said. "My mistake."
Victorino followed with a two-run single.
"Bad pitch selection," Billingsley said. "Myers hit a cutter, a good pitch for me lately, but it was up and over the middle. The one pitch I'd like do different was the pitch to Victorino. Should have done something offspeed."
Billingsley got out of that inning by issuing one of Chase Utley's four walks and striking out Ryan Howard to end the inning.
But he was in an immediate jam in the third when Myers came up with the bases loaded and one out. Billingsley threw a fastball away and Myers punched it off the end of his bat inside third and down the line for two more runs.
"When you're not throwing the ball where you want to, it's easy to second-guess yourself," Martin said. "We have to make adjustments. We're going to have to change a little something in how we approach their hitters. I don't know if we'll go inside more. I wouldn't tell you if we were."
Aside from James Loney's pair of hits -- one a double that barely missed being a home run -- figuring in the Dodgers' first two runs, their best news was the pitching of three rookies who started the season at Double-A Jacksonville and shut down the Phillies over the final 5 1/3 innings.
James McDonald came on to strike out Burrell with the bases loaded in the third inning, pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in his first postseason action and only his fifth Major League appearance.
"I think we found out a little bit about that young man tonight," Torre said.
Clayton Kershaw, a long-shot candidate to start Game 4, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings and Cory Wade retired the only batter he faced.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.