Phillies play power ball
They hit 4 homers in KO of Brewers
MILWAUKEE - The Philadelphia Phillies found plenty of power to go with their pitching, right in time for the NLCS.
Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run, Pat Burrell connected twice, and Jayson Werth added a solo shot yesterday to lead the Phillies to a 6-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that clinched their first trip to the league championship series since 1993.
After winning this best-of-five playoff series in four games, the Phillies next face the Los Angeles Dodgers. Game 1 is Thursday in Philadelphia.
"I like our chances," manager Charlie Manuel said. "I think we can beat anyone in the National League, really."
Overshadowed by the home run barrage was a gem by midseason addition Joe Blanton, who held the Brewers to one run after an eight-day layoff. Burrell backed him with a three-run shot and a solo drive, breaking out of a playoff slump.
"I couldn't be more thrilled. You know, I don't think it's actually sunk in all that much yet," said Burrell, who has been with the Phillies since they drafted him in 1998.
The Phillies partied in their clubhouse, dousing each other with bottles of champagne and cans of beer. Rollins, who wore swimming goggles, grinned as he darted around the clubhouse, looking for unsuspecting - not to mention dry - teammates.
The Dodgers and Philadelphia have met for the NL pennant three times before. Los Angeles won in 1977 and '78, and the Phillies took the flag in 1983.
During the regular season, the Phillies and Dodgers each swept a four-game series from the other at home.
The wild-card Brewers, meanwhile, head for an offseason of uncertainty after their first playoff appearance in 26 years. Ace pitcher CC Sabathia, who almost single-handedly salvaged Milwaukee's postseason hopes, is a free agent and isn't expected back.
Ben Sheets, the team's second-best starter, might be gone, too. He had tears in his eyes as he hugged members of Milwaukee's coaching staff, and he spent several minutes with catcher Jason Kendall.
Oh, and the Brewers need a manager after firing Ned Yost with 12 games left in the regular season. Dale Sveum took over on an interim basis.
"We have a lot of young guys still," Sveum said. "This was a steppingstone for a lot of them."
Burrell, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard were a fearsome trio in the regular season for the Phillies, putting up the kind of numbers that make opposing pitchers shudder. Howard made a case for the NL MVP, leading the league in home runs (48) and RBIs (146), and Utley and Burrell added 33 homers each.
But their bats were deafeningly silent in the first three games of the series, even as Philadelphia jumped to a 2-0 lead. The three were a dismal 4 for 28 in the first three games, with Burrell going hitless.
The power outage was reminiscent of last year, when they went 5 for 27 while being swept by Colorado.
This wasn't the same, Howard and Burrell insisted after Saturday's night's loss. Philadelphia's offensive fortunes were about to turn.
Did they ever.
Rollins led off yesterday's game with a homer, turning on a 3-and-2 pitch from Jeff Suppan and depositing it into the first row of seats in right field. Two innings later, Shane Victorino doubled to left with one out and went to third on a ground out by Utley.
The Brewers opted to walk Howard, which wouldn't seem like a bad move, considering Burrell's single in the second was his first hit of the postseason.
"This is a time of year where you've got to go with who's hot, and I understand that. The bottom line is you've got to find a way to win," said Burrell, who wasn't sure if he would find his name in the Game 4 lineup.
"I don't doubt they know how important this is to me and how much I want it, but at the same time, if guys aren't swinging the bat well, you've got to go with the hot hand . . . Fortunately, [Manuel] kept me in there."
Burrell lofted Suppan's 2-and-2 pitch so deep into the left-field stands that Ryan Braun barely bothered to chase it.
The Phillies weren't done, either, with Werth hitting a homer to make it 5-0. The sellout crowd at Miller Park booed Suppan, not letting up when Greg Dobbs flied out to end the inning.
Burrell hit another monster homer to left in the eighth inning off Guillermo Mota.