PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Brett Myers stood on first base, shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders. He couldn’t explain his hitting success, and no one ever expected it.
Myers did better at the plate than on the mound, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, and Shane Victorino drove in four runs as the Philadelphia Phillies overcame another homer by Manny Ramirez to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 8-5 Friday for a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series.
“I’m not a very good hitter,” said Myers, who became the first pitcher to get three hits in an NLCS game. “I just get lucky occasionally. I’m baffled by it. I would’ve rather pitched better.”
A grieving Charlie Manuel was in the dugout with the Phillies, hours after the manager’s mother died. Players and coaches from both teams offered condolences before the game. Manuel didn’t speak to reporters.
“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,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
The Phillies rallied around their skipper, and now they’ll have to do the same for their spark-plug center fielder. Victorino was told after the game that his grandmother died Friday morning.
Victorino hopes to attend the funeral in Hawaii without missing any games. No arrangements had been made yet, but Tuesday is a scheduled off day in the series.
Victorino made a clutch catch with two on to end the seventh, and Brad Lidge hung on in the ninth for his second save of the series. He walked Ramirez and James Loney, then struck out Matt Kemp and Nomar Garciaparra to end it.
“We really wanted to win today for Charlie,” Lidge said.
Myers wasn’t sharp on the mound, allowing five runs and six hits in five innings. Good thing for the Phillies that he’s suddenly become a pesky batter after hitting .069 with one RBI in the regular season.
In Game 2 against Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs, Myers drew a two-out walk from CC Sabathia and Victorino hit a grand slam two batters later in a 5-2 win.
“He had four hits all year and three today. That’s tough to count on and defend against,” Torre said.
Myers was surprised, too. At one point, he stood in the dugout, covered his eyes with one hand and feigned a swing with the other, showing a teammate how he did it.
The Phillies, appearing in their first NLCS in 15 years, are two wins from the World Series. They’ve won just one championship (1980) in the franchise’s 126 years.
“We’re not comfortable until we’re finished with this whole thing,” Myers said. “We’re going to keep fighting.”
A title-starved crowd waved its “Fightin’ Phils” rally towels and chanted “Beat LA!” These long-suffering fans haven’t celebrated a championship since the NBA’s 76ers won it all in 1983. If the Phillies keep playing like this, they just might give them that parade down Broad Street in a few weeks.
Ramirez did his best to spoil the party.
After grinning when a pitch from Myers sailed behind his back in the first inning, he lined a three-run shot into the flower bed just beyond the left-field wall to pull the Dodgers to 8-5 in the fourth.
Ramirez has hit a record 27 homers in the postseason. His 71 RBIs are second only to Bernie Williams’ 80.
“I’d want to have a guy like that on my team,” Ramirez said of Myers. “He’s going to go out there and battle.”
Lidge finished for his fourth postseason save and his 45th in 45 chances this year.
Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley allowed eight runs—seven earned—and eight hits in 2 1-3 innings. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched 6 2-3 strong innings in a win over the Cubs in Game 2 of the division series.
Myers had a go-ahead RBI single with two outs in a four-run second inning, and his two-run single chased Billingsley in the third. Myers was 4-for-58 in the regular season and is a lifetime .116 hitter.
“It’s crazy,” he said.
Jimmy Rollins bounced a single up the middle and Myers chugged toward third. Kemp misplayed the ball in center field or he could’ve thrown Myers out to end the inning. Rollins hustled into second on the play.
Victorino followed with a two-run single to left-center to make it 4-1. The Flyin’ Hawaiian slapped his hands after rounding first and the fans went wild.
Victorino made a leaping catch of Casey Blake’s drive at the center-field fence to end the seventh.
“He hit it well,” Victorino said. “I just told myself, try to get back.”
Loney’s two-out RBI single to center cut it to 4-2 in the third. The Dodgers loaded the bases when Kemp reached on third baseman Dobbs’ fielding error, but Myers escaped the jam by striking out Blake DeWitt on a slow curve.
Pumped up by his pitching, Myers came through at the plate again. The Phillies loaded the bases with no outs. After Ruiz’s grounder forced Burrell at home, Myers slapped a liner past first baseman Loney down the right-field line to give the Phillies a 6-2 lead.
Chan Ho Park came in and struck out Rollins, but Victorino tripled to right-center to make it 8-2. Los Angeles used two more pitchers to get out of the inning.
Before he rattled Billingsley, Myers unnerved some of the Dodgers’ hitters. He threw some high-and-tight fastballs in the first inning and the one really wild pitch that sailed behind Ramirez.
Myers knocked down Russell Martin with a fastball right before he struck out on a slow curve. That brought up Ramirez with two outs and nobody on.
Myers’ first pitch was in and the next one, a 94 mph fastball, was several feet behind the Ramirez. Never shy to tell a pitcher he doesn’t appreciate getting brushed back, Ramirez didn’t say a word and ended up striking out on a 3-2 slider.
As he walked to the dugout, Myers had some words with Dodgers first-base coach Mariano Duncan.
“He said, ‘You’re going to get somebody hurt out here,”’ Myers said. “The ball slipped out of my hand. I don’t want to hurt their best player.”
Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax sat one row in front of Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda behind the Dodgers dugout. Lasorda got a nice ovation when he walked up the steps during the fourth inning. … Ramirez struck out and popped out his first two at-bats and was 3-for-21 off Myers before he connected.