That’s the way they’ve played it all year.
After ducking a pitch thrown over his head the previous day, Victorino and much-traveled pinch-hitter Matt Stairs delivered two-run homers in the eighth inning Monday night, lifting the Phillies to a 7-5 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.
“This was the biggest game we’ve won so far,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “But the next one is even bigger. That’s kind of how we look at it.”
Brad Lidge got his first four-out save for the Phillies, remaining perfect this season. It was the first time the visiting team has won a game in 12 meetings between the clubs this year.
After squandering a pair of leads, Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers have a tough task ahead. Only 11 teams in major league history have come back from 3-1 deficits to win a best-of-seven postseason series—two in the NLCS.
There were no brushback pitches or other trouble Monday night, unlike Game 3 when the benches and bullpens emptied in the third inning, moments after Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a pitch over Victorino’s head in retaliation for Philadelphia’s high-and-tight pitches earlier in the series.
Victorino was one of seven people fined Monday for their conduct during the near-scuffle.
With a runner at first and one out in the eighth, Victorino lined Cory Wade’s first pitch into the right-field bullpen to tie the game at 5.
“My emotions obviously kind of got to me last night,” the plucky Victorino said. “But going into today’s game you turn the page and you forget about it. It was just going out there, trying to get a win and getting one step closer to the World Series. But it’s still far from over.”
After a two-out single by Carlos Ruiz, manager Joe Torre called on closer Jonathan Broxton, the seventh Los Angeles pitcher. Broxton tried to throw a 3-1 fastball past Stairs, and the 40-year-old left-handed hitter drove it more than halfway up the right-field pavilion to put the Phillies ahead.
That was just what Stairs intended.
“My whole career, even back in the early days, my approach was try to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” he said. “And it’s something I enjoyed doing. In batting practice, I try to hit every ball out of the ballpark. I’m not going to lie, it’s fun. I try to hit home runs and that’s it. I’m not going to hit a single and steal second base. So I think the biggest thing is to get up there, swing hard and elevate.”
Broxton allowed only two homers in 69 innings during the regular season. This one was a no-doubter the moment it left Stairs’ bat.
“I fell behind in the count and made a mistake over the plate and he cashed in,” Broxton said. “He’s a home run hitter. You’ve got to wipe it out and get ready to play them again.”
Stairs has played for 11 teams in his career. Philadelphia picked him up from Toronto on Aug. 30.
The Phillies hit an NL-leading 214 homers during the regular season and have nine in eight playoff games, good for 17 of their 35 runs.
Lidge, the Phillies’ sixth pitcher, earned his fifth postseason save in five chances—but it wasn’t easy.
A perfect 41-for-41 in save opportunities during the regular season, Lidge entered a game in the eighth in a save situation for the first time this year when he came in with two outs and nobody on. Ramirez greeted him with a double, and Russell Martin struck out but reached first on a wild pitch before James Loney flied out.
Lidge retired the side in order in the ninth, making the Phillies 85-0 when leading after eight innings this year, including six wins in the postseason.
“It’s amazing,” Lidge said. “That speaks a lot about our hitters and how much they believe in themselves and the talent they have to come back.”
Torre said he wouldn’t have handled his bullpen any differently.
“We just didn’t get the job done,” he said. “Cory Wade’s numbers against left-handed hitters this year have been really good. He threw a breaking ball and it stayed up and Shane just knocked the hell out of it.”
Torre canceled the Dodgers’ workout on Tuesday.
“These guys are fighting their hearts out, and just I told them to be back here on Wednesday to be ready to play baseball,” he said. “We have to win the remaining games. We can only do it one at a time. I sense we’ll be back right here with the right attitude.”
The Dodgers scored twice in the sixth for a 5-3 lead. Casey Blake, who struck out in his first two at-bats, greeted reliever Chad Durbin by hitting a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his first postseason homer.
Juan Pierre, making his first start of the postseason, followed with a double and pinch-hitter Matt Kemp walked. Scott Eyre relieved and first baseman Ryan Howard threw wildly past first on Rafael Furcal’s sacrifice bunt, allowing Pierre to score and putting runners at second and third.
The Dodgers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth, scoring twice with Ramirez delivering a tying single. He is 7-for-8 with a homer and seven RBIs with runners in scoring position during the playoffs.
The Phillies tied it in the sixth when Howard scored from third on Chan Ho Park’s two-out wild pitch.
Lowe, pitching on three days’ rest for the fifth time in his career, allowed six hits and two runs in five innings. Blanton also went five innings, giving up seven hits and three runs.
Orel Hershiser, one of the Dodgers’ stars in the 1988 World Series, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to son Jordan. … Ramirez extended his record streak of getting at least one RBI in league championship series games to eight. He reached base in all five plate appearances on a single, double and three walks—two intentional.