Never stop, never stop fighting till the fight is done Here endeth the lesson.
Eliot Ness via David Mamet in "The Untouchables"
The Phils extracted victory from the duodenum of defeat tonight, winning 7-5 over the Dodgers to go up three games to one in the NLCS. In the process, the Phils overcame their own manager's proclivity to small ball them to death and their own defensive blunders.
Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel set the tone in the bottom of the first intentionally walking Manny Ramirez with a 2-0 lead and one out which set up a James Loney double (on a GD 0-2 pitch!) to cut the lead by one.
Next with the Phils trailing 3-2, Manuel did his best to thwart a Phils rally. After A Ryan Howard walk and a Pat Burrell single, the Phils had men at first and second and had none out. Shane Victorino, the man who would eventually tie the game with a home run, sacrificed. This was a move so bad that even Tim McCarver could tell it was bad. Let's kill a rally by handing the other team an out and bring up the caboose of my lineup.
Next, he brought in righty Pedro Feliz to bat for lefty Greg Dobbs against shaky lefty Clayton "Don't Call Me Nik" Kershaw. Torre easily countered this by bringing in right Chan Ho Park, that was sort of a push. Feliz flied out but Park gave up a wild pitch to Carlos Ruiz, tying the ballgame. After Ruiz walked, Manuel forced Torre to lift the abysmal Park for Joe Biemel, by pinch-hitting lefty Geoff Jenkins. Jenkins was then lifted for So Taguchi. I might prefer letting the pitcher bat against Park than Taguchi bat against Biemel. Whichever you prefer, two bats off the bench were wasted.
With the Phils having just tied the game 3-3, Manuel stuck with Chad Durbin in the sixth after he gave up two monster shots, a homer to Casey Blake and a gapper double to Juan Pierre of all people. Durbin next walked Matt Kemp on four pitches. Kemp did not end up scoring, but the next batter, Rafael Furcal with Scott Eyre relieving Durbin, bunted and after a Ryan Howard throwing error to first to get Furcal, Pierre scored.
The turning point was Chase Utley's great unassisted doubleplay to end the inning. Crybaby Martin lined to Utley and he won a foot racesomehowwith Rafael Furcal to get back to the bag for the final out.
Then Torre's ill-advised moves came to the fore. Earlier in the game, he made some questionable calls first putting a slight lead in the young Kershaw's hands when Derek Lowe had just had a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. Next, Torre turned to Park. But his worst move may have been to lift Hong-Chih Kuo, who had been dominate but gave up a walk to Howard, in favor of Cory Wade. Wade then gave up the game-tying home run to Shane Victorino and what turned out to be the winning run in the form of a Carlos Ruiz single to left. Finally, Torre turned to closer Jonathan Broxton, who promptly lost the game on a tremendous shot by Matt Stairs to the right field bleachers in Long Beach.
Manuel then turned to closer Brad Lidge with two out in the eighth, and suddenly it looked like the Phils would fall apart again. Ramirez doubled next and a wildpitch strikeout left Crybaby Martin on first and Ramirez at third. But Lidge get the next four men out to save it.
The Phils now go into game five with Cole Hamels who has looked completely the ace this postseason against Chad Billingsley, who the Phils plastered last time out. Also, teams leading three games to one in a seven-game series have historically won 83% of the time (54-11), and that's including teams who did not have the last two games at home.
I just hope the put the Dodgers away early in Wednesday. I'm going to have a heart attack if they have another one like tonight's ballgame. I just hope he doesn't bunt Victorino again.