L.A. Goners; Phils Win NLCS in Five

On the 29th anniversary of the Phillies winning the 1980 World Series, the Phillies advanced to their second straight Fall Classic with a 10-4 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers. Next up is either the Angels or Yankees.

October 21st has been very good to the Phillies. On that date in 1980, they won their first World Series title and 13 years later, in 1993, Curt Schilling threw a five-hit shutout in game five of the World Series.

Now, in 2009, another win. This one sending the Phillies to their second straight NLCS win over the Dodgers and their second straight trip to the World Series. The Phillies will sit back and watch the ALCS play out to determine whether they'll meet the Yankees or the Angels and will also have to cool their heels until next Wednesday when the World Series opens in the American League city.

Ryan Howard, who hit .333 (5-for-15) with two home runs and eight RBI in the NLCS was named the series' most valuable player.

Ryan Howard enjoys a champagne shower courtesy of Pedro Martinez as the Phillies celebrate their second straight National League Championship. Howard was named MVP of the series.
(Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

"It's definitely something special," said Howard about being named the series MVP. "To be able to go out there and just contribute, try to do my job to the best of my ability and to get recognized for it right now, it's something special."

Last year's NLCS MVP, Cole Hamels, started game five, but lasted just 4 1/3 innings before exiting with the Phillies holding a 6-3 lead. From there, five relievers held the Dodgers to just one run over the final 5 2/3 innings, with Chad Durbin, who threw 1 1/3 shutout innings, getting the win.

Manager Charlie Manuel made what may have seemed like an early change, because he was concerned about Hamels pitch count and how the Dodgers were hitting him. "I was sitting there, and Cole was - already had like 87, 90 pitches, and I'm sitting there thinking, he didn't have real good command, and he didn't have good stuff. They were swinging good at him," explained Manuel.

Offensively, it was a power display by the Phillies. Jayson Werth cranked a three-run shot in the bottom of the first off Dodgers' starter Vicente Padilla to give the Phillies a 3-1 lead. Later, Werth would add a solo home run to his night. Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino also homered for the Phillies.

The Yankees hold a 3-1 lead in games in the ALCS, with game five set for tonight in Los Angeles. Should the Angels win to force a game six, the two teams would be off on Friday and play again Saturday in New York, with game seven to follow on Sunday, if needed.

It appears that most fans would like to see a Phillies/Yankees World Series. Chants at Citizens Bank Park Wednesday night went from "Beat LA" to "take a shower" (directed at Manny Ramirez for his early shower escapade on Monday night) to "Yankees Suck".

The Phillies now have a chance to become the first National League team to win back-to-back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975 and 1976. The last team to win back-to-back World Series were the Yankees, who won three straight from 1998 through 2000. The Phillies are also the first National League team to play in consecutive World Series since the Atlanta Braves in '95 and '96.

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