Phils can move to brink of pennant repeat with Game 4 win
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- The Dodgers got outslugged in Game 1 and responded with an exhilarating come-from-behind win in Game 2.
They didn't get outslugged in Game 3 on Sunday night -- they were pummeled for an early knockout and once again find themselves backpedaling toward the ropes in the National League Championship Series.
The Dodgers, after an 11-0 licking Sunday, now find themselves down 2-1 against the Phillies in the NLCS with Game 4 scheduled for 8:07 p.m. ET on Monday at Citizens Bank Park. The defeat matched the worst postseason loss in club history -- an 11-0 loss in Game 1 of the 1959 World Series, an affair they ended up winning in six games.
"A loss is a loss," catcher Russell Martin said. "We never came close to winning this one. We'll forget about this one and get them tomorrow."
The Dodgers, though, won 95 games during the regular season. They swept the Cardinals in the first round. They staged a two-run rally in the eighth inning Friday to pull out a 2-1 victory in Game 2 at Dodger Stadium. So they walked off the field Sunday hardly dazed or needing a standing eight-count -- they know exactly where they are and what they need to do.
"We just need to come out tomorrow and play," shortstop Rafael Furcal said. "They've got to win two more. We've got to come up better offensively, get some hits, get men on base and make our offense work. We know we're down one. But let's come out tomorrow, tie it up and then see where we are at."
The Phillies like their position but aren't about to start looking ahead to their next opponent, despite the lopsided Game 3 outcome.
"You don't want to get ahead of yourself," first baseman Ryan Howard said. "Right now you worry about Game 4 and then hopefully take care of business in Game 5. Then you worry about the next opponent you face."
The Dodgers came to Philadelphia with the minimal goal of winning at least one game here and assuring the series would go back to Los Angeles, and the reality is that they still have two more cracks at accomplishing that goal.
But one more victory by the Phillies would put them up 3-1 and in position to finish it off without a return trip to Los Angeles. At that point, the Dodgers would be forced to confront some tough odds.
"We've got to avoid that," outfielder Andre Ethier said. "But at the same time, we've got to get wins. If we get wins, we'll get closer to our goals."
There have been 73 best-of-seven playoff series in which one team has held a 3-1 lead after four games. Only 10 times in those 73 series was a team able to rebound from being down 3-1 and rally to win the series. That's the bad news.
"Tomorrow we have to come in here and win no matter what," outfielder Manny Ramirez said.
The good news is that a team was able to overcome those odds as recently as two years ago when the Red Sox fell behind 3-1 before winning the last three against Cleveland in the 2007 ALCS. It has happened twice in the NLCS, once by the Braves against the Cardinals in 1996 and again by the Marlins against the Cubs in 2003. So it can be done.
The last time the Dodgers won an NLCS was in 1988, and they were basically in the same situation as they find themselves in now. That Dodgers squad trailed the Mets 2-1 with Games 4 and 5 on the road. But the Dodgers won both of those games at Shea Stadium and ended up winning in seven back in Los Angeles.
The teams are in for another chilly night Monday. Game 3 started with the temperature at 46 degrees and the mercury should be somewhere close to that Monday. But there is no threat of rain.
The Dodgers send Randy Wolf to the mound and need a strong outing from the 33-year-old left-hander who spent his first nine professional seasons with the Phillies. Dodgers starting pitchers have struggled against the Phillies in their two NL Championship Series over 2008-09.
Vicente Padilla was outstanding in Game 2, but after Hiroki Kuroda allowed six runs in 1 1/3 innings in Game 3, Dodgers starters have a 7.27 ERA in seven NLCS games against the Phillies going back to last year.
The Dodgers also need to find their offense. They have scored two runs in the last two games. Both runs came against the Phillies bullpen. The Dodgers were held scoreless for a combined 15 innings over the past two games by Phillies starters Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee.
"Our offense is good," Ramirez said. "That's what happens when their pitchers pitch great."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.