One more win and the Fightin’ Phils will have another World Series trip to celebrate.
Rollins lined a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning off All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton(notes) and the Philadelphia Phillies rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 Monday night for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.
The defending champions can earn their second consecutive pennant with a victory at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night. Cole Hamels(notes), last year’s NLCS and World Series MVP, will take the mound for the Phillies. Clayton Kershaw(notes) or Vicente Padilla(notes) will start for Los Angeles.
“This is big,” Rollins said. “The pressure’s all on them.”
Trailing 4-3, the Phillies started their rally with one out in the ninth when pinch-hitter Matt Stairs(notes) walked on four pitches against Broxton. Stairs hit a two-run homer off Broxton in Game 4 of the NLCS last year at Dodger Stadium.
Rollins, just 3 for 18 in the series to that point, ripped a 99 mph fastball to right-center and the ball rolled to the wall. Andre Ethier’s(notes) throw toward the infield was high and off line, and Ruiz slid home without a play.
“I’m all right. I had to curl up in the fetal position and throw some punches of my own,” Rollins said before taking a cream pie in the face from a teammate.
It was the second thrilling ending to a playoff game Monday. Hours earlier, Jeff Mathis(notes) hit an RBI double with two outs in the 11th inning to give the Los Angeles Angels a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL championship series.
It was the sixth time two postseason games have ended in walk-off fashion on the same day, according to STATS LLC. The previous time was Oct. 5, 2007, when Boston beat the Angels and Cleveland topped the Yankees in AL division series.
Brad Lidge(notes) got two outs in the ninth to earn the win. Ryan Howard(notes) hit a two-run homer that gave him eight straight postseason games with at least one RBI, tying Lou Gehrig’s major league record set more than seven decades ago.
But J-Roll got the biggest hit for Philadelphia.
“He likes the moment,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He wants to be there, and he can control his adrenaline and he can handle the moment. The bigger the stage, the better he likes to play.”
Before Rollins came through, Dodgers relievers hadn’t allowed a hit in 3 1-3 innings.
“They’re a very tough lineup to go through,” manager Joe Torre said. “You try to be careful. He almost dug himself out.”
George Sherrill(notes) struck out Howard with two runners on in the eighth and Broxton retired Jayson Werth(notes) on a fly ball to end the inning. At that point, Torre had made all the right moves one day after hearing criticism for starting Hiroki Kuroda(notes) in Game 3. Torre let Sherrill face Howard, even though he was 0 for 10 against Broxton.
But Broxton couldn’t nail down the four-out save. Now, the Dodgers are one loss from elimination.
“He put some good wood on it and it went to the wall,” Broxton said. “It was a good game, just let it get away in the ninth.”
Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, the Phillies got within a run on Chase Utley’s(notes) RBI single. Shane Victorino(notes) tripled into the left-field corner as Ramirez nonchalantly chased after it. Victorino scored on Utley’s liner to right.
With two outs and runners at first and third, Raul Ibanez(notes) greeted reliever Hong-Chih Kuo(notes) with a liner to left on his first pitch. But Ramirez, known more for loafing than sensational grabs, saved the day—momentarily—for the Dodgers. Still, he was removed for defensive replacement Juan Pierre(notes) in the ninth.
It was another brisk night—48 degrees for the first pitch—at Citizens Bank Park. Bundled-up fans kept warm by waving their “Fightin’ Phils!” rally towels and screaming “Beat LA! Beat LA!”
They had plenty to cheer early when Howard ripped a 3-1 pitch to the seats in right, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first. Fans gave Howard a standing ovation and many chanted “M-V-P!” as he came out for the early curtain call.
The streaking slugger has driven in a run in each of the Phillies’ eight playoff games this year. Gehrig’s streak stretched over two World Series with the Yankees in 1928 and 1932.
“I’m just going to go up there and keep throwing my bat at the ball,” Howard said.
Making his first start since he lasted only 3 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the division series against St. Louis, Wolf gave up three runs and four hits. The Wolf Pack—a group of fans who used to sit in the upper deck and cheer for Wolf when he pitched in Philadelphia—was in the crowd. Wolf left them tickets, knowing they would root for their beloved Phillies.
Coming off the most lopsided victory—11-0—in their postseason history, the Phillies jumped on the Dodgers in the first for the second straight night. But Wolf settled in and Los Angeles chipped away.
Kemp, who started a two-run rally in the fourth by drawing a walk, put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 when he connected off Blanton in the fifth.
Shaky defense by Philadelphia helped the Dodgers tack on a run in the sixth. Ramirez reached on third baseman Pedro Feliz’s(notes) throwing error, a ball that first baseman Howard could’ve scooped. With two outs, Casey Blake(notes) looped an RBI single down the right-field line to give the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Blake was 1 for 13 in the series before the hit.
Notes: Howard tied Mike Schmidt’s club record with his sixth career postseason homer. Howard has 14 RBIs this postseason and has reached base safely in 17 straight playoff games. … Wolf was an All-Star with the Phillies in 2003 and started the first game at Citizens Bank Park in ’04. … Blake was 1 for 25 against Blanton before his RBI single.