Homer-happy Phils beat Dodgers in NLCS opener

LOS ANGELES — So good at winning in walk-off fashion, the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn't find a way to get it done against the Philadelphia Phillies.

A two-run rally in the eighth inning stalled on Manny Ramirez's groundout, then the Phillies turned a double-play behind Brad Lidge in the ninth to close out an 8-6 victory in Game 1 of the NL championship series Thursday night.

"With Philly's lineup the way it is, you've got to keep piling on runs and keep going," said Matt Kemp, who had two singles. "If we can start to do that, we're going to be in good shape."

The Dodgers get another chance in Game 2 this afternoon when they start Vicente Padilla against veteran Pedro Martinez.

"We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. We just hope we can take advantage of situations," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "The thing we have to get back to is doing a better job of keeping their guys off base."

Los Angeles had 12 walk-off victories in the regular season — third-best in the majors — and pulled off another one in Game 2 of the division series en route to sweeping St. Louis.

"We know we're going to have to go out there and score runs. The Dodgers aren't going to back down," Ryan Howard said. "We know they're going to come in waves and continue to fight, and that's what they did."

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit three-run homers, reliever Ryan Madson got a key out and Lidge pitched a scoreless ninth for the Phillies, who took a 2-0 lead in last year's best-of-seven NLCS, beat the Dodgers in five games and went on to win the World Series.

"It's like a prize fight, we just came up a little short," Torre said.

Home runs dominated on both sides in a game that lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes. Ruiz highlighted a five-run burst in the fifth and Ibanez homered in the eighth for an 8-4 lead as the Dodgers failed to neutralize the Phillies' left-handed hitting.

"We just needed that one big hit to kind of get us over the hump, and Carlos came through," Howard said. "We got guys on, and guys came through when we needed big hits."

James Loney also connected for the Dodgers. Ramirez, baseball's all-time postseason home run leader with 29, hit a two-run shot. But he grounded out weakly with two runners on against a struggling Madson to end the Dodgers' rally in the eighth. Their 14 hits set a club record in a single LCS game, but they stranded 10 runners.

"We had a number of opportunities and hit some balls hard, but seven walks is a little bit tough to overcome," Torre said.

Philadelphia's Cole Hamels thrived under pressure last October, earning NLCS and World Series MVP honors. But the left-hander hardly resembled the same pitcher in earning the victory, giving up a postseason career-high eight hits and two homers. He allowed four runs in 5 1-3 innings.

It was his first outing since he left the ballpark in the division series against Colorado to be with his wife as she prepared to give birth.

"It doesn't look good on paper, but there were a lot of times where the counts were in my favor and I kept them off-balance," Hamels said. "Unfortunately, some of the results weren't there, but in the key situations, I was able to get what I needed."

At 21 years and 211 days, Clayton Kershaw was the youngest pitcher ever to start a Game 1 in a league championship series, and it showed.

The Dodgers lefty was tagged for five runs in the fifth, when he set a LCS record for most wild pitches in an inning with three. He also tied the record for most wild pitches in a LCS game, shared by Tommy John and Juan Guzman.

"The first four innings I felt great, and then I couldn't make adjustments fast enough. In the playoffs, you're not going to have a lot of leverage. If you don't make your pitches, before long you're out of there," he said.

"I just got out of the strike zone a little bit, and that's what happens. They make you pay for that."

Kershaw took the loss, allowing four hits in 4 2-3 innings and walking five in his second postseason career start. He worked out of the bullpen in last year's NLCS, which the Dodgers lost 4-1 to the Phillies. He was 0-2 with a 5.23 ERA in two starts against them during the regular season.

The Dodgers' usually solid bullpen couldn't contain the Phils. George Sherrill, their fourth reliever of the game, gave up Ibanez's homer on the first pitch, the first homer off him by a left-handed hitter this year. Howard and Jayson Werth drew consecutive walks to open the eighth.

"That was a shock for everybody, especially the walks," Torre said. "But again, he'll get the ball tomorrow in the eighth inning. It's just one of those things."

The Dodgers got two runs back in the bottom half on Russell Martin's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Rafael Furcal. They had the tying runs at first and third with two outs, but Madson won a showdown when Ramirez grounded to third.

Kershaw retired five of the previous six batters he faced before the Phillies got to him. Ibanez led off with a single and took second on a wild pitch before Kershaw walked Pedro Feliz. Ruiz sent a 2-1 pitch into the "Mannywood" section in left field for a 3-1 lead.

Jimmy Rollins reached on a fielder's choice, then advanced two bases on consecutive wild pitches. Chase Utley walked and Howard hit a two-run double, extending the Phillies' lead to 5-1. Howard passed Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt with his 17th postseason RBI, most in Phillies' history.

The Dodgers closed to 5-4 with three runs in the bottom half. Ramirez hit his first home run since Sept. 18, a drive into the left-field pavilion off Hamels. Martin, who led off with a double, scored on Andre Ethier's grounder.

Ramirez's RBIs gave him 78 in the postseason, putting him three away from breaking baseball's career record of 80 by Bernie Williams.

Los Angeles threatened in the sixth, loading the bases on consecutive singles by Loney and Ronnie Belliard off Hamels and a two-out walk to pinch-hitter Jim Thome by J.A. Happ. But Happ retired Furcal on a grounder to end the inning.

"This time of year you want opportunities, and we're very confident we're going to cash in," Torre said.

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