Ethier had his second winning hit against the Philadelphia Phillies in two days, hitting his second homer of the game with two out in the 12th inning to give the Los Angeles Dodgers a 3-2 victory Saturday.
Brad Lidge(notes) had his second blown save in less than 24 hours, giving up a tying home run to pinch-hitter Rafael Furcal(notes) with one out in the ninth. Last postseason, Lidge was perfect in seven save opportunities.
Ethier’s performance against the Phillies this weekend is in sharp contrast to last year’s NLCS, where he had no RBIs in 22 at-bats against Philadelphia.
“I can’t believe it—two days in a row,” said Ethier, who hit a game-ending two-run double off Lidge in the ninth inning of Friday night’s 4-3 win. “You can go through half a season, a whole season, without having that opportunity, and I had it two games in a row.”
Ethier sent a full-count offering from Chad Durbin(notes) (1-2) over the center-field fence to complete his fourth career multihomer game. In the fourth, he drove a 1-2 pitch into the right-field pavilion off Joe Blanton(notes).
“I had just let a good pitch go, but I was just staying with the at-bat, staying with the moment,” said Ethier, whose home run Tuesday night against Arizona snapped a 24-game drought. “On a 3-2 count, you’re just up there trying to put a good swing on a pitch in the zone.”
Lidge converted all 41 save opportunities last year in the regular season.
But in this four-game series between the teams with the two best records in baseball, the two-time All-Star has looked more like the pitcher who temporarily lost his closer’s job with Houston in May 2006.
“Obviously the breaks went with me last year, and right now they’re not,” Lidge said. “But you’ve got to be careful not to be negative and pessimistic in your mind, because that can hurt you. That’s one of the reasons why I’ll continue to stay optimistic.
“I feel good, but I know that something needs to change—in terms of the results,” Lidge said.
Lidge has coughed up leads in six of his 19 save attempts this season. He has a 7.27 ERA and has yielded seven home runs in 26 innings. Furcal’s homer was his 85th in the majors and first as a pinch hitter.
“Last year’s last year and this year’s this year,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s got the same stuff he had last year, but that’s baseball. Right when you think you’ve got this game whipped, it can jump right up and bite you. But he’ll always be my guy. If you do something else with him, I think that could hurt his confidence.”
The Phillies have lost consecutive games for the first time since May 13-14, when the Dodgers swept them in a two-game set at Philadelphia.
Hiroki Kuroda(notes) pitched two-hit ball over six innings for the Dodgers and struck out five in his second start off the disabled list, departing after 94 pitches with a 1-0 lead that was provided by Ethier’s first homer.
Kuroda’s biggest out came on his 96th and final pitch, when he struck out last year’s major league home run and RBI leader, Ryan Howard(notes), on a fastball high and away to strand runners at the corners.
Blanton allowed a run and five hits over six innings and struck out five. The Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball at 38-20 and lead the NL in batting average, runs and on-base percentage, have totaled only five runs in 41 innings against opponents’ starting pitchers over their last six games. But they have won four of them.
On the 50th anniversary of Dodger SS Maury Wills’ major league debut, the club presented him with second base when the team took the field for the Phillies’ second inning. This time, he didn’t have to steal it. Wills swiped 104 bases in 1962, a modern-day big league record at the time. … The U.S. Postal Service in a pregame press conference behind home plate officially assigned Dodger Stadium its own Zip Code—90090. It used to be “Los Angeles, 90012.”