Wolf Dominates Old Team in Big Win

Randy Wolf returned to Philadelphia and while he must have enjoyed his homecoming, his old team wasn't so delighted. Wolf allowed three hits over his six-inning start and struck out eight in a 9-2 win. In addition the Dodgers offense apparently stopped watching the dugout to see if Manny Ramirez would be coming out, with that little smile on his face and swinging his big, black bat.

After a week of waiting for someone else to supply the batting punch needed to get back to business, the Dodgers unloaded on Philadelphia, the scattered 14 base hits all over Citizen's Bank Park, six of them for extra bases and two of them that left the park entirely.

The win gave them their first win in Philadelphia since 2007, breaking a string of seven straight losses, and boosted their Major League-leading record to 23-12 and increased their lead to 4.0 games over the Giants and since the other four teams lost, over every other team in the National League West.

A five-run fourth inning, keyed by a three-run home run off the bat of James Loney, his first of the season, and doubles by Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson plus singles from Matt Kemp and Casey Blake.

The outburst finally put a smile on manager Joe Torre's face, although a small one, and must have delighted him much more than the fact he had been invited to coach in the All-Star Game.

Of the three hits Wolf (2-1) allowed, two of them came in the second inning, a home run by Jimmy Rollins and a double by Carlos Ruiz. Ruiz would double again in the fifth but the Dodgers left-hander was on a roll this night, handling the Phillies with ease, particularly the batters who swing from the left side. Left-handers are hitting an anemic .167 against him this season and he has fanned 23 of them while walking four.

After five straight no decisions, he has finally won his second game.

The Dodgers followed their five runs in the fourth with two more in the fifth. Ramon Troncoso took over for Wolf in the seventh and after retiring the first Phillie in the eighth, he gave up a walk and Torre replaced him with Will Ohman, who was pounded the night before.

Ohman retired the first batter he faced, or rather center fielder Matt Kemp retired him with a running, sliding catch. He then got a popup to retire the side. He surrendered a home run leading off the ninth and that triggered a call for James McDonald who retired the first batter on a ground ball but gave up a walk. Another rookie, Brent Leach, blew away the final two Phillies to close things out.

One was almost given the impression that Torre was holding a live-action tryout, checking his bullpen while holding a comfortable lead. That and the use of Josh Lindblom at Chattanooga as a reliever after five starts give the impression that the bullpen is far from set.

But Wolf, who threw 113 pitches said after the game, "I didn't think I was very efficient. I ran some deep counts. That's a tough lineup. You've got to be careful out there. They're dangerous."

He has pitched very well this season, as his 2.77 ERA would attest, and it was the offense that pleased the eye this night -- and the defense.

Matt Kemp has developed into an outstanding outfielder, using his remarkable speed and sure glove to haul in drives over a large area. One might use the things that were said about Willie Davis, including "The earth is covered by two-thirds water; the rest is covered by Davis."

And a random thought: where are all the Kemp critics who wanted to trade him for a pitcher when he was making some terrible baserunning decisions? He still is sometimes unsure of himself, but, for example, he scored all the way from second base in the fourth inning on a routine sacrifice bunt by Wolf.

Loney made a sprawling catch of a line drove in the seventh and Hudson demonstrated that the Gold Gloves on his mantel are deserved, sliding on his chest to gobble up a hard ground ball and flipping it to Furcal for a force play in the same inning.

And the hitting ... ah, the hitting.

After being held to Furcal's first inning single by 46-year-old Jamie Moyer, Los Angeles gobbled him up in the fourth and fifth. Furcal, who doubled in his second trip to the plate, credited a call from Ramirez with helping him stay patient at the plate."

Furcal and Hudson led off the fourth with doubles to tie the game. Hudson's shot was his 13th two-base hit of the young season and he would get another in the fifth. With one out, Russ Martin drew a walk.

Loney, hitting .178 in May, hit a towering fly to right field and he threw his bat away in disgust, only to watch right fielder Jason Werth circling the outfield with his hands out to show he could not pick up the ball. However, a fan in the second row of the right field seats not only picked it up, he caught it.

The three-run show was Loney's first home run of the season and his first extra-base hit in his last 15 games.

Kemp and Casey Blake followed the shot with singles and Wolf dropped a bunt in front of the plate and Moyer easily threw him out. It not only advanced the runners, it scored Kemp all the way from second base climaxed by a head-first slide that eluded Ruiz's attempt to tag him.

In the fifth, Hudson doubled again and Martin lined a shot into left field that was hit so hard Hudson had to stop at third. Kemp walked to load the bases and Blake hit a towering pop that Ryan Howard caught up with just in front of the seats and Martin tagged up and scored the Dodgers seventh run on one of the shortest sacrifice flys of the season.

L.A. had runners on base in each of the final four innings and left runners at first and third in the sixth, first and second in the seventh, at third in the eighth and then finally scored twice more in the ninth when Kemp singed with two out and Blake, with his short, powerful swing, deposited his seventh home run deep into the left-field seats. It gives him the team lead over an outfielder whose name slips my mind.

With the best home record in Baseball (14-3), The win evened the Dodgers' road record at 9-9 and gives them a chance to take the series from Philadelphia with a win this afternoon.

"We know we're a good team, but when you walk into a building like this where we lost four last year during the season and twice in the playoffs, and you walk into some places and say it doesn't matter, you think about those things," Torre said. "We had to be aggressive. These are the World [Series] champs here and I know their record at home isn't as good as it's going to be. But that's the thing we have to do, we were aggressive."

Todays matchup (1:05 Eastern Time) will see RHP Chad Billingsley (5-1, 2.45 ERA) matched with the Phillies seven months after his playoff debacle, an occurance that writers keep poking him about, hoping he will admit he had a bad day. In his last start, he took his first loss by allowing the Giants three runs in seven innings, after five innings of a scoreless duel with Barry Zito. The Giants scored on two sacrifice flies and an infield single.

The Dodgers will face LHP Cole Hamels (1-2, 6.17 ERA), who in his last start against them picked up the win in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, earning MVP honors in the process. Hamels has had bad luck this season, but pitched well against the Braves in his last start, allowing just three hits and two runs in six innings to pick up his first win of the season.  

Pitching probables for the rest of the road trip:

Today at Philadelphia- RHP Chad Billingsley (5-1, 2.45) vs. LHP Cole Hamels (1-2, 6.17)  
Friday at FLA- LHP Eric Stults (4-1, 3.58) vs. RHP Chris Volstad (2-2, 2.98)
Saturday at FLA - RHP Jeff Weaver (1-0, 2.57) vs. TBD
Sunday at FLA-   LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-3, 5.21) vs. LHP John Koronka (0-1, 9.64) 

  Score by Innings
Los Angeles	000 520 002-9
Philidelphia	010 000 001-1
  Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	4  0  2  0  .411
Furcal ss	5  1  2  0  .244
Hudson 2b	4  2  2  1  .348
Ethier rf	5  0  0  0  .273
Martin c	3  2  1  0  .173
Loney 1b	5  1  3  4  .277
Kemp cf	        4  2  2  0  .281
Blake 3b	4  1  2  3  .268
Wolf p	        2  0  0  1  .125
 Loretta ph	1  0  0  0  .344
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Ohman p	1  0  0  0  .500
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Leach p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Total	        38 9 14 9 
  Philadelphia	32 2   5 2

  2B- Fucal (6), Hudson 2 (14), Pierre
(6). HR- Loney (1), Blake (7). RBI-
Hudson (21), Loney 4 (25), Wolf (3),
Blake 3 (21). S- Wolf. SF- Blake. LOB-
Dodgers 9, Philadelphia. SB- Pierre 2

  Los Angeles	 in h r-er bb so  era
Wolf (2-1)	6.0  3  1-1  3  8  2.77
Troncoso 	1.1  1  0-0  1  0  2.08
Ohman 	        0.2  1  1-1  0  0  5.73
McDonald	0.1  0  0-0  1  0  6.75
Leach	        0.2  0  0-0  0  1 10.80
  WP- Leach. HBP- Pierre. T- 3:22. Att- 45,273.
Joe Torre to Coach at the All-Star Game
Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel asked Joe Torre to be part of the National League coaching staff for the Midsummer Classic in St. Louis on July 14.

"It's a privilege and an honor," Torre said before the second game of their three-game series. "I'm definitely going."

Torre is 5-0-1 as a manager in the All-Star game. He led the AL team to a victory in 2004 in his last appearance as manager. The managers of the two teams that play in the previous World Series are the All-Star managers. Each gets to pick two managers to serve as coaches.

Torre spent six seasons as a player in St. Louis (1969-74) and six more as a manager (1990-95). He's looking forward to going back for the All-Star festivities instead of taking three days off. He did have to change the date for his sister's 80th birthday celebration that originally was scheduled for that week.

"It'll be fun," he said. "St. Louis is where I started growing up. It'll be nice going back there."

The 2008 All-Star game was held at the old Yankee Stadium in its final season, but Torre was left off the NL coaching staff during his first year in charge of the Dodgers.

Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers had scored a Major League-leading 37 first-inning runs in 34 games, four more than the Mets in 32 games, before being held scoreless in the first game of the series. The Dodgers have scored at least one first-inning run in 19 of their past 36 games and are 15-4 in those games. ... Loney's three-run homer snapped Los Angeles' three-game streak without a homer on the road ...The Dodgers have hit just two homers in their past nine road games. ...The Dodgers are in a stretch of playing 12 straight games against clubs outside the National League West. Also, 35 of the club's 43 games through June 28 are outside of the division. They have averaged 2.0 more runs at Dodger Stadium (6.5) than on the road (4.5), and have hit 59 points higher. The club's ERA is also more than a run and a half better at home. ...The Dodgers lead the National League in both runs scored and team ERA, with the offense scoring 196 runs while the pitching staff has posted a 3.75 ERA.  Los Angeles has scored 14 more runs than St. Louis' 173, the closest NL team. They also have a Majors-best 160 walks. ...The Dodgers are now 8-2 in games with an opposing left-handed starter. San Francisco's Barry Zito is the only left-hander whose team has defeated Los Angeles.   

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