LOS ANGELES - It was, perhaps, the closing act of Mannywood.
The show ran for 53 regular-season games and two playoff series, but it closed abruptly last night at Dodger Stadium with a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, who wrapped up the National League Championship Series in five games and now await their foe in the World Series.
It will be the Phillies' first trip to the World Series since 1993, when they lost in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays.
The star of Mannywood, Manny Ramírez, left Dodger Stadium last night with his agent, Scott Boras. But before doing so, Ramírez had an important question to ask.
"What's the matter with David?" he said of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "I wonder if it's the wrist. I hope he gets it together, man. I'm rooting for him. I'm rooting for the Red Sox. I really am. They're my boys over there."
Even though the Phillies were extra careful with Ramírez, the one pitch they gave him to hit last night was a 1-and-2 offering from LCS MVP Cole Hamels on the outside part of the plate. Ramírez smacked it for a solo homer to right field in the sixth inning. It was one of the few mistakes made by Hamels, who won two games in the series.
Ramírez had nearly single-handedly brought the Dodgers this far after he was acquired in a trade from the Sox July 31. At that time, it didn't look like the Dodgers were going to make the playoffs, but as disruptive as Ramírez was in Boston, he was the opposite in LA.
Ramírez went 8 for 15 with seven RBIs in this series, and 13 for 25 with 10 RBIs in the playoffs. In what may have been his final at-bat in LA, Ramírez singled off Phillies reliever Ryan Madson, his eighth hit, matching a club record for an LCS.
By the top of the ninth inning, fans were chanting, "Stay Manny Stay!" And while he wants to return to LA, that will be determined in the weeks to come when Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and Boras discuss the huge amount of money it would take to sign Ramírez, who is a free agent.
"I heard the fans," Ramírez said. "It was great. It was the same thing I heard in Cleveland at the end and I heard some of that in Boston, too. It's nice. I thank them for the great support. We'll see what happens in the offseason. I'll go home to Miami and relax and see what happens. I really have no idea."
Ramírez laughed when asked what meant the most to him in his next contract.
"I want to see who the highest bidder is," Ramirez said.
McCourt went around the clubhouse to thank his players for their effort this season. He stopped Ramírez on the way out, extended his hand, and said, "Thank you for what you've done here this season. It was tremendous. A lot of fun."
Asked later for his thoughts about retaining Ramírez, McCourt said, "It takes two to tango. We'd love to have him back, but we'll begin to discuss those things."
Ramirez hit .396 with 17 homers and 53 RBIs in those 53 regular-season games, and .332 with 37 homers and 121 RBIs overall this season.
There's no doubt he took the town by storm, but in the end, Ramírez, a one-man show, simply didn't have a strong supporting cast.
Not when starter Chad Billingsley, for the second time in the series, couldn't escape the third inning. Last night, he lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing three runs. Billingsley's Game 2 start didn't go well, either, lasting 2 1/3 innings, allowing seven earned runs. He also failed to protect his teammates when Phillies starter Brett Myers threw behind Ramírez's head early in Game 2.
The hope was Billingsley would turn it around at Dodger Stadium, where he hadn't lost since July 8 and was 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA here since in seven starts.
Not when shortstop Rafael Furcal made three errors - two on the same play - in the fifth inning, when the Dodgers allowed two runs to give Philly a 5-0 lead.
Not when rookie infielder Blake DeWitt knocked the Dodgers out of two potentially big innings with double-play grounders.
Phillies leadoff man Jimmy Rollins, a former NL MVP who had done little in this series (.242 entering the game), homered in the first on a 3-and-2 pitch.
From there, it didn't get much better for Billingsley. Oh, he settled down for a while. He got a key double-play liner in the first inning after he'd walked Jayson Werth. He struck out the first two batters in the second. But in the third, after striking out Hamels, he walked Rollins, who stole second base. After Werth struck out, Chase Utley drew a walk and Ryan Howard roped a single past James Loney at first base for the second run. That was followed by Pat Burrell's RBI single to left.
That wasn't even the ugly stuff. That came when Furcal had the yips with two errors on what might have been a double-play grounder by Burrell, booting it and then throwing it away as a run scored. With two outs, Furcal made another throwing error on what would have been the third out, accounting for the fifth Philly run.
After the game, Ramirez answered numerous questions from the media before leaving the home clubhouse, perhaps for the final time.
"I'm just gonna leave everything to God," said Ramírez. "It was a great experience. I knew it would be. I think I showed everybody I'm a five-tool player and that Los Angeles made a good trade."