Phillies jimmy it open in 9th
Broxton cracks, Rollins wins it
PHILADELPHIA - Jimmy Rollins thrust his right fist into the air as he rounded second base last night, ran a few more steps, then was engulfed by a red sea of teammates waiting to celebrate what could be their imminent return to the World Series.
Rollins cracked a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning that lifted the Philadelphia Phillies to a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the fourth game of the National League Championship Series. The Phillies lead three games to one, with Game 5 tomorrow night back at Citizens Bank Park, where the defending champs have won 10 of their last 11 postseason games.
“It doesn’t get bigger than at this moment,’’ Rollins said. “It would have to be at the top, by far. That’s a great feeling, it really is.’’
The winning rally started with one out against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton. Pinch hitter Matt Stairs drew a walk and was replaced by pinch runner Eric Bruntlett. Broxton then hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch.
Pinch hitter Greg Dobbs lined softly to third for the second out. But Rollins lined a 1-1 pitch, a 99-mile-per hour fastball, into the gap in right-center. It rolled to the wall, allowing Bruntlett and Dobbs to score without a throw home.
“I just wanted to catch the ball on the barrel,’’ Rollins said. “I wasn’t afraid, I’ve faced him a number of times before. He’s pretty much thrown me all fastballs. If he’s going to lose, he’s going to lose with his best.’’
Rollins had been 7 for 33 (.212) with one RBI this postseason before going 2 for 5 last night. Despite Rollins’s struggles, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel liked the matchup against the hard-throwing Broxton.
“Jimmy Rollins has a short, quick, compact swing and he can get to fastballs. He had hit your best heater,’’ Manuel said. “Broxton is good, very good. But Jimmy, when he has his swing, he can explode on a fastball.’’
Brad Lidge got the victory, his first of the entire season. After starter Joe Blanton allowed four runs over six innings, Chan Ho Park, Ryan Madson, Scott Eyre, and Lidge held the Dodgers scoreless the rest of the way.
“We can’t be trying to figure out percentages because that wouldn’t work on our behalf,’’ Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “We have to go out there, play baseball, and win one ballgame. That’s what we need to do.’’
The Phillies took a 2-0 lead in the first off Randy Wolf when Rollins singled to left and Ryan Howard lined a home run into the stands in right.
The homer gave Howard 14 RBIs this postseason. He has driven in at least one run in each of the eight games, tying the major league record set by Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig of the Yankees from 1928-32. Howard also has reached safely in 17 consecutive postseason games.
“He’s seeing the ball good, he looks real relaxed at the plate, and from a mechanics standpoint, he’s loading up good and he’s staying on the ball,’’ Manuel said before the game.
Blanton retired the first nine batters he faced, throwing only 32 pitches. It left the Dodgers scoreless over 12 innings.
But that changed with one out in the fourth when Matt Kemp drew a walk. Andre Ethier made the second out, but it was on a line drive to center that backed Shane Victorino up against the wall. It was a sign that the Dodgers had figured Blanton out. Manny Ramirez and James Loney followed with singles that cut the Philadelphia lead to 2-1.
After Ronnie Belliard drew a walk to load the bases, Russell Martin’s single to left tied it. Blanton finally ended the inning by getting Casey Blake to ground to second.
The Dodgers took the lead in the fifth when Kemp got a high fastball on a 2-0 count and sent it soaring into the shrubbery beyond the fence in center.
Torre predicted before the game that his team would snap out of its offensive funk.
“This is something that’s been consistent with us. We don’t score and then all of a sudden things, boom, turn around for us,’’ he said.
Ramirez reached on a throwing error by third baseman Pedro Feliz to start the sixth before Belliard dropped a single into center field, the ball falling just out of Rollins’s reach.
Martin took a called third strike for the second out but Blake dropped a single down the right-field line to score Ramirez.
Wolf went into the sixth having retired 13 of the 14 batters after the homer by Howard. That continued when he got Rollins on a grounder to third base.
But Victorino got the towel-waving crowd of 46,157 back into the game with a drive down the left-field line that rolled into the corner. Ramirez took his time getting to the ball and Victorino had a triple.
Chase Utley lined a 1-2 pitch to right to score Victorino and make it 4-3.