Personal tragedy has befallen the Philadelphia Phillies during the NL championship series, but they hope to keep playing winning baseball right through it.
It appears Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel and center fielder Shane Victorino will be at Dodger Stadium for Game 3 despite pending funeral arrangements for family members.
Not long before Game 2 on Friday, Manuel learned his 87-year-old mother had died after a brief illness. Rather than leaving to be with his family, Manuel remained with his players and they came through with an inspiring 8-5 victory.
“We really wanted to win today for Charlie,” said Phillies closer Brad Lidge, who earned his second straight save despite walking two batters in the ninth inning.
Pitcher Brett Myers had three RBIs and had three hits—one shy of his total during the regular season—to help Philadelphia take a 2-0 lead before heading to Los Angeles.
“He’s been so good to us,” Myers said of Manuel. “We’ve got to show him some love, too. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family dealing with this time.”
The manager in the other dugout has a good idea of what Manuel is going through. The Dodgers’ Joe Torre managed the New York Yankees in the 1996 World Series while his brother, Frank, was undergoing a heart transplant.
“I know Charlie told me he talked to his mom on a regular basis and her only concern was for him to go out and win ballgames,” Torre said.
Now Victorino will try to do the same. His grandmother also died Friday morning, though he was not made aware of her passing until after Game 2. He hopes to attend the funeral in Hawaii without missing any games.
“It’s obviously been a tough day around here, but you know what? It’s about baseball,” Victorino told the team’s official Web site after driving in four runs Friday. “Charlie stayed strong. He kept us all strong.”
The Dodgers need a strong response to the Phillies to avoid falling into a 3-0 hole from which no NL team has ever escaped in a playoff series. The only AL team to do it was Ramirez’s Boston Red Sox against the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS.
Ramirez is having another outstanding postseason, batting .444 (8-for-18) with seven RBIs in five games. His three-run homer gave the Dodgers a chance at a comeback win Friday after the Phillies had taken an 8-2 lead through three innings.
The all-time leader with 27 playoff home runs, including three in this postseason, Ramirez now faces the pitcher against which he has homered more times than any other.
Jamie Moyer (0-1, 4.50) has served up 10 homers to Ramirez, who has hit .340 (18-for-53) against the 45-year-old left-hander.
“Yeah, he has had success against me. And I’ll tip my hat to that,” Moyer said. “He’s a good hitter. He’s had success against a lot of people. But the way I look at it, (Sunday) could be a different day.”
Moyer is 1-3 with a 6.83 ERA at Dodger Stadium and in his only start there in the past decade, he was tagged for 10 runs and 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 10-3 Phillies loss on July 16, 2007.
Philadelphia has lost five straight at Chavez Ravine—most recently a four-game sweep in mid-August—but each of those games was decided by one or two runs.
That sweep is part of Los Angeles’ 19-6 home record since Aug. 1, including an NL division series-clinching Game 3 win over the Chicago Cubs behind six scoreless innings from Hiroki Kuroda (1-0, 0.00), who opposes Moyer.
“We need to get things back on our side,” Torre said. “And I don’t want to say it’s more comfortable coming home, but it should give us a little more confidence, let’s put it that way.”
The Phillies had an NL-best 44-37 road record during the regular season and have not lost consecutive road games in more than six weeks. Game 4 is Monday in Los Angeles.
Moyer struggled away from home in his NLDS start and is the only Phillies pitcher to lose in this postseason. He needed 90 pitches to get through four innings against Milwaukee as he allowed two runs, four hits and three walks in a 4-1 defeat.
Kuroda is 7-2 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 home starts, including his NLDS outing. He was outstanding in two starts versus Philadelphia in August, going 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA while the Phillies hit .095 against him.
“Regular season and postseason is a totally different thing,” Kuroda said. “Just because I did well (against Philadelphia) in the regular season doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same during the postseason.”
Ryan Howard is 0-for-5 against Kuroda and he’s hit .105 (2-for-19) with one RBI during these playoffs. The major league leader with 48 home runs and 147 RBIs has gone eight consecutive games without homering, his longest such drought since June.