10/10/08 11:31 PM ET
'Second' chances favor Philly, not LA
Dodgers starter Billingsley struggles in key inning of Game 2
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
If you wanted to look at the sequence as the difference in Philadelphia's 8-5 win in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, it would be hard to argue.
Billingsley, the Dodgers' starter, took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the second inning of Friday's game. He made the inning's first two batters, Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth, look silly on called third strikes before allowing a single and a double to tie the game.
Still, the pitcher's spot was due up, so Billingsley still had every chance to get out of the frame with a tie score. He couldn't get it done.
Billingsley made a decent pitch to his opposite number, Brett Myers, a slider down and on the inside part of the plate, but Myers did a better-than-decent job of stroking it up the middle for a go-ahead single.
And once the door was opened, Myers and his teammates crashed through.
Jimmy Rollins poked a ground-ball single to center field just out of the reach of second baseman Blake DeWitt. Had DeWitt been playing elsewhere, it might have been a harmless infield grounder, but instead it was another hit.
"No chance," DeWitt said of fielding the ball, "not the way I was shading him to pull."
When Matt Kemp bobbled it for an error, Rollins was able to motor to second and Myers huffed and puffed all the way to third, working hard for every one of those extra 90 feet.
"I saw Myers running and kind of rushed it and bobbled the ball," Kemp said. "My mistake."
It turned out to be a pivotal mistake, as the next batter, Shane Victorino, lined yet another single to center field, bringing home both runners for a 4-1 Phillies lead.
"It was pitch selection," Billingsley said. "Things just got away from me there. I just wasn't able to execute. They hit a couple cutters, and that's been a good pitch for me. I didn't throw enough inside. The one pitch I'd like to have back is the one to Victorino with runners on second and third. I should have gone something offspeed."
That chased Billingsley, who in the NL Division Series had been so outstanding.
"He gets the first two hitters out, the five and six guys, and then all of a sudden strange things happened," said Dodgers manager Joe Torre. "He gets ahead in two counts and wasn't able to put people away. And that may have unnerved him a little bit, but, again, you have to sort of fix this thing while it's going on."
The entire sequence stood in stark contrast to the preceding half-inning, when Myers held the Dodgers to a single run after Los Angeles opened the inning with a single and a double. The Phillies took advantage. The Dodgers didn't.
"That's what this game is about," Victorino said. "It's about capitalizing on mistakes, or getting extra outs, and when you get that extra out, finishing the deal and trying to get what you can out of it. That's what we were able to do tonight."
Matthew Leach is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.