Dodgers Just This Far From Series Tie

In a game that saw everything, except a Dodger win, Los Angeles came within one last line drive of tying the series with Philadelphia. But as it turned out, the Phillies put together another late inning rally that gave them a 7-5 win and a comfortable 3-1 margin in the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers left an even dozen men on base in the heartbreaking loss, and were just inches from crafting a big inning of their own in the sixth but a pair of two-run home runs turned the game around for good in the eighth.

The remarkable Dodgers bullpen, who came into the game having not allowed a run in 11.1 innings, broke apart at the seams, They gave up a 3-2 lead in the sixth and a 5-3 lead in the fateful eighth and the Philadelphia pen shut them down with only a pair of hits over the final three innings.

The Jeff Kent's game ending line drive had hardly whacked into the glove of third baseman Pedro Feliz when the analyzation started.

Manager Joe Torre was questioned about taking starter Derek Lowe out of the game after five when he had thrown only 74 pitches, but he had a perfect explanation. "First, he was on short rest. I think that was well-documented. He had to work hard every inning, even though he was in the 70s pitch count-wise. The only one-two-three innings he had was the fifth inning. I thought at that point, especially when we took the lead, it just looked like he was fighting his emotions the whole game.

"He said he felt fine. We were probably going to get only one more inning out of him anyway, pitch count-wise, and I just decided to make the move there."

His choice to take over with a slim 3-2 lead was 20-year-old Clayton Kershaw, who gave up a walk and a single before Chan Ho Park was called upon. Park wild-pitched a run home. Then Joe Beimel, Hong-Chih Kuo, Cory Wade and Jonathan Broxton followed with various degrees of ineffectiveness.

But the Dodgers, who stayed true to form by leaving men on base in every inning but the fourth and ninth, kept putting men on base but leaving them there.

And they were inches away from breaking the game open in the sixth, after turning a 3-3 tie into a 5-3 lead. With the bases loaded, Russell Martin hit a rocket to Chase Utley at second base who not only made the catch, but turned it into a killing double play. -- if the balll goes through it is two more runs instead of the final two outs.

Blake's leadoff home run broke the tie before Juan Pierre and Matt Kemp walked. Rafael Furcal's but was thrown wide of second and allowed Pierre to score but had Utley not got a glove on the ball it would have rocketed into right field and added another run to the inning.

In the eighth, trailing by two, Furcal led off with a walk, but Ethier hit the first pitch into a 6-3 double play. Ramirez followed with a double to right-center, but was stranded.

The defeat leaves the Dodgers in a 3-1 hole that can be overcome. The Boston Red Sox did it last season against the Cleveland Indians, with Ramirez on the winning side and Blake on the losing end of it.

A win Wednesday isn't out of the question, but winning two more in Philadelphia is a tall order. The Dodgers are 0-6 there this season, including two defeats in this series.

"We can only do it one at a time," said Torre, who saw his Yankees lose a series to the Red Sox in 2004 after taking a 3-0 ALCS lead. "I sense we will be back here with the right attitude. These guys have been playing hard.

"There's a little inexperience sprinkled in, but we knew that going in. But they're certainly not afraid."

Lowe had made four career starts on three days rest in the regular season or postseason. In those games, he was 3-1 with a 4.30 ERA (11 ER/23.0 IP). He had not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his previous 11 starts, going 6-2 with a 1.30 ERA.

But this night Philadelphia took an early lead in the first inning, the first time they had started with a lead. Both pitchers made mistakes in the opening inning on 0-2 pitches and both of them cost runs.

Jimmy Rollins singled to open things, then broke for second and sailed into third on Jayson Werth's ground single to left. Chase Utled doubled on an 0-2 pitch into the right field corner to score Rollins and Ryan Howard's ground ball made it 2-0.

Lowe later induced a DeWitt, Furcal and Loney double play on a ball hit by Shane Victorino to get out of the inning as cheaply as could be expected.

The Dodgers cut the lead to 2-1 in the last of the first. Rafael Furcal's push bunt sailed over the third baseman's head for a single. Ander Ethier moved him to second with a ground ball and, not surprisingly, Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked.

Russell Martin struck out and on an 0-2 pitch, Loney then slammed a shot off the center field wall, missing a home run by about four feet and scoring Furcal. Blake DeWitt lined out to first base to end the inning.

Between innings, manager Joe Torre had along-distance conversation about the strike zone and the umpires interpretation of it.

After the second inning, Lowe complained that the baseballs were too slick, and the home plate umpire agreed with him. So an attendant rubbed them up and Lowe seemed more comfortable in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Los Angeles jumped in front in the fifth. Furcal walked, Ethier blooped a single to left and Ramirez's single to left saw Furcal running through the stop sign of third base coach Larry Bowa, just sliding in under the tag at the plate to tie the game.

Martin's ground ball to short allowed Ethier to score and after Loney was walked intentionally and DeWitt, who had left two on in the first and two more on in the third, hit into a double play to end the inning.

Clayton Kershaw replaced Lowe in the top of the sixth and walked Ryan Howard and gave up a ground single that just eluded Furcal's diving attempt. Victorino bunted the runners to second and third and Chan Ho Park replaced the 20-year-old.

Park got Greg Dobbs on a pop to right field for the second out, but the then bounced a pitch past Martin and Howard came in to tie the game. The run Howard scored was the first allowed by the Dodgers bullpen in the series. Park then walked Ruiz and Torre called on Joe Beimel to face pinch-hitter So Taguchi. His first pitch was hit off the end of the bat and Andre Ether came a long way to make a diving, sliding catch that saved the tie.

Casey Blake, who had been called out on strikes his first two times, hit a Chad Durbin two-strike slider into the left-field seats to put the Dodgers in front again. Blake was reluctantly pushed out of the dugout by his teammates to take a quick cuartain call at the request of the howling crowd.

Then Pierre smacked a double to left field and Matt Kemp pinch-hit for Beimel and walked on four pitches. Rafael dropped a bunt down the first base line and Howard's throw to first was wild, nearly rolling down the right field line, with Pierre scoring from third; Furcal moving to second and Kemp to third.

Ethier hit a broken-bat line drive to Howard at first base for the first out of the inning and the Phillies walked Ramirez to load the bases. Martin banged a line drve to Utley at second and his dive to the bag just doubled Furcal off second.

Hong-Chih Kuo got a ground ball and a pair of strikeouts in the top of the seventh. But Howard nearly took Kuo's leg off with a single to center in the eight and Torre called on Cory Wade to face right-handed batter Pat Burrell and he popped up to Angel Berroa, who had replaced DeWitt. Then Shane Victorino, who had been a thorn in the Dodgers' side the entire series, tied the game with a line drive into the Phillie bullpen.

After Dobbs flew to left, Carlos Ruiz singled to left and Torre called for Jonathan Broxton, who is not quite as effective when pitching two days in a row, and he gave up an even longer home run to 40-year-old pinch-hitter Matt Stairs, the ball landing deep in the right field pavilion to give Philadelphia a 7-5 margin, their first lead since the first inning.

It was the first home run given up by Broxton in Dodger Stadium since July of 2006.

Furcal opened the bottom of the eighth with a walk off JC Romero but Ethier hit the first pitch into a double play. That brought up the marquee moment of the game -- light-out closer Brad Lidge against hot-hitting Manny Ramirez. The count went 3-2 and Ramirez won the battle with a double to the right-center field wall.

Then, shades of Mickey Owen's passed ball in the 1941 World Series, Martin struck out but the ball got away and Russell reached first base as Ramirez moved to third on the wild pitch and gave James Loney an opportunity change the game. He flew to left to end the threat.

Broxton had little trouble in the top of the ninth and Lidge came back to pitch the ninth, the first time this year he has pitched multiple innings.

Lidge had no problem nailing down the win despite the Dodgers sending up 109 years of experience. Nomar Garciaparra (35), Casey Blake (34) and Jeff Kent (40) went down in order and with them the chances for a N.L. title.

The two teams take today off with Torre canceling workouts today. Game 5 in Dodger Stadium will see Chad Billingsley face Cole Hamels and the Dodgers with have their backs to the wall.

 Score by innings
Philadelphia	200 001 040-7
Los Angeles	100 022 000=5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	2  2  1  0  .267
Ethier rf	5  1  1  0  .278
Ramirez lf	2  0  2  1  .500
Martin c	5  0  0  1  .154
Loney 1b	4  0  2  1  .417
DeWitt 3b	3  0  0  0  .091
 Berroa 2b	0  0  0  0  .000
 Garciaparra ph	1  0  0  0  .500
Blake 3b	5  1  2  1  .267
Pierre cf	3  1  2  0  .667
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Wade p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
Lowe p 	        2  0  0  0  .000
 Kershaw p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Kemp ph-cf	1  0  0  0  .250
  Totals	34 5 11 4
  Philadelphia	36 7 12 6

 Two-base hits- Loney (2), Pierre (1), 
Ramirez (2). HR- Blake (1). S- Furcal, 
Kuo. RBI- Loney (2), Ramirez (6), Martin 
(1), Blake (2), CS- Pierre (1), LOB- Los 
Angeles 12, Philadelphia 7. DP- DeWitt, 
Furcal and Loney.

  Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Lowe	        5.0  6  2-2  1  4  3.48
Kershaw	        0.1  1  1-1  1  0  4.50
Park	        0.1  0  0-0  1  0  0.00
Beimel	        0.1  0  0-0  0  0  0.00
Kuo	        1.0  1  1-1  0  2  4.50
Wade (0-1)	0.2  2  2-2  0  0  6.00
Broxton	        1.1  2  1-1  1  1  3.86
 WP- Park. T- 3:34. Att- 56,800.
Seven Fined in Ruckus
Manager Joe Torre took exception to the fact that pitcher pitcher Hiroki Kuroda and six others were fined on Monday by Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's director of on-field operations, following a benches-clearing fracas in the third inning of Game 3 on Sunday night in which no punches were thrown.

"They want you to play with passion, but they don't want you to show it," Torre said.

Kuroda was fined $7,500 for throwing a pitch over the head of Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino, three times what any of the other players or coaches involved were told to pay.

Victorino was fined $2,500 for inciting the incident by jawing at Kuroda on his way off the field after grounding out to first base two pitches later, ending the inning.

Dodgers left fielder Manny Ramirez ($2,500), first-base coach Mariano Duncan ($1,000) and third-base coach Larry Bowa ($500) also were fined, as were Phillies reliever J.C. Romero ($1,000) and first-base coach Davey Lopes ($500). Those fines all were apparently levied as punishment for those individuals yelling and generally escalating the situation.

"To me, if passion for the game is what you ask people to pay their money to watch, then when that passion shows up and no blows are exchanged …" Torre said. "I can understand if there is rolling around in the grass. But I'm not sure what kind of message that was."

Duo Takes Revenge
Although Victorino took the high road when asked about the Dodgers allowing him to be taken twice in the Rule V draft, saying, "I have no grudges. I thank them for the opportunity." Then he paused, and added, "I definitely would have loved to be in that uniform. It just doesn't always work out that way."

Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth, himself a Dodgers castoff, said what Victorino wouldn't: "After what he went through with that organization, he's absolutely thrilled to do this against them. They sent him packing. They didn't want him. I couldn't be happier for him."

He didn't say it but he must have felt the same when after the Dodgers allowed him to walk away after suffering a wrist injury when hit by a pitch in the first game of spring training in 2006.

Big O Throws Out First Pitch
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by 1988 NLCS MVP Orel Hershiser. The right-hander appeared in four games during the '88 LCS and pitched 24.2 innings, posting a 1.09 ERA. In 11 career LCS games (eight starts), Hershiser is 3-2 with a 1.52 ERA (11 ER/65.1 IP). The three-time All-Star, who was serving as an analyst for the game for ESPN Radio, threw the pitch to his son, Jordan, who is a sophomore pitcher for USC.  

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