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2008 National League Championship Series
From BR Bullpen
|2008 National League Championship Series|
90 - 72 in the NL
|4 - 1
|Los Angeles Dodgers|
84 - 78 in the NL
|2008 MLB Postseason|
|AL||LAA - BOS||TB - BOS||PHI - TB|
|TB - CHW|
|NL||CHC - LAD||PHI - LAD|
|PHI - MIL|
|<< 2007||2009 >>|
The National League Championship Series of 2008...
 The Teams
Los Angeles Dodgers
 Series results
|1||Los Angeles Dodgers 2 Philadelphia Phillies 3||October 9||Derek Lowe (0-1) Cole Hamels (1-0)||8:22 p.m.|
|2||Los Angeles Dodgers 5 Philadelphia Phillies 8||October 10||Chad Billingsley (0-1) Brett Myers (1-0)||4:35 p.m.|
|3||Philadelphia Phillies 2 Los Angeles Dodgers 7||October 12||Jamie Moyer (0-1) Hiroki Kuroda (1-0)||8:22 p.m.|
|4||Philadelphia Phillies 7 Los Angeles Dodgers 5||October 13||Joe Blanton (0-0) Derek Lowe (0-1)||8:22 p.m.|
|5||Philadelphia Phillies 5 Los Angeles Dodgers 1||October 15||Cole Hamels (2-0) Chad Billingsley (0-2)||8:22 p.m.|
 Game 1 @ Citizens Bank Park
|WP: Cole Hamels (1-0), LP: Derek Lowe (0-1), SV: Brad Lidge (1)|
|Home Runs: PHI - Chase Utley (1), Pat Burrell (1)|
- Attendance: 45,839
The first game of the NLCS was a pitching duel, with the Phillies winning at home by doing what they had done best that year: score all their runs in one big inning, and use the home run as their weapon of choice. The pitching match-up featured Derek Lowe for the Dodgers and Cole Hamels for the Phils, both of whom had started their team's first game in the NLDS and had earned a victory.
The Dodgers scored in the 1st inning when Andre Ethier hit a one-out double and Manny Ramirez followed with a ball hit to the deepest part of center field, hitting the fence 8 feet from the ground; a foot higher up or further right, and the ball would have been a home run. As it was, Ramirez stood at home plate to admire the hit for a few seconds and stopped at second base. Given Hamels threw a wild pitch before the inning was over, it may well have cost the Dodgers a run. They added a second one in the 4th inning on a lead-off double by James Loney, who advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a sacrifice fly by Blake DeWitt. This was all the offense that Los Angeles could muster against Hamels and two relievers that evening.
For his part, Lowe muzzled the Phillies' bats for the first four innings, forcing them to hit a steady stream of ground balls which were turned into outs. In the 5th, he appeared to lose his poise a little after giving up back-to-back hits by Carlos Ruiz and Hamels, but escaped without giving up a run. However, the first batter in the 6th, Shane Victorino, hit a sharp ground ball to short which Rafael Furcal fielded cleanly; but his throw to first was wild and got past Loney, allowing Victorino to race into second base. Chase Utley followed with a long ball and the game was tied at 2 each. After Ryan Howard grounded out, Pat Burrell followed with another long ball, putting the Phillies ahead and chasing Lowe from the game. The bullpen then did its job for both teams, with Brad Lidge coming in to earn the save in the 9th and seal the 3-2 Philadelphia win.
 Game 2 @ Citizens Bank Park
|WP: Brett Myers (1-0), LP: Chad Billingsley (0-1), SV: Brad Lidge (2)|
|Home Runs: LA - Manny Ramirez (1)|
- Attendance: 45,883
Philadelphia put Los Angeles in a 2-0 hole with a convincing win in Game 2. The Dodgers did the first dammage, however, when Andre Ethier and James Loney opened the 2nd inning with a single and double. Blake DeWitt hit a ground ball to Ryan Howard at first to drive in the first run of the game. The Phillies replied immediately, and as is their custom, with a bunch of runs. After both Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth struck out, Greg Dobbs, starting at 3B in place of Pedro Feliz, singled. Carlos Ruiz followed with a double to tie the game, then pitcher Brett Myers lined a single to center for a second run, the first of three hits for the Phillies' starter. Jimmy Rollins singled and advanced to second on CF Matt Kemp's error. Shane Victorino followed with the fifth consecutive base hit against Chad Billingsley, a single that added two more runs for a 4-1 lead. Chase Utley then walked, before Howard, the ninth batter of the inning, struck out.
The Dodgers got a run back in the 3rd when Loney singled in Russell Martin, but they left the bases loaded and missed a key opportunity to make the score closer. Philly would make them regret that wasted chance with another big inning in the bottom of the 3rd. Burrell singled and Werth doubled to start the frame, then Dobbs was walked intentionally to load the bases. At that point, Billingsley had allowed 9 of the last 10 batters to reach base safely, but Joe Torre left him in. Carlos Ruiz forced Burrell at home, but Myers followed with his second single to score two more runs, finally chasing Billingsley in favor of Chan Ho Park. After Rollins struck out, Victorino hit a triple for two more runs, putting the Phils in a commanding 8-2 lead. Torre would then burn through relievers Joe Beimel and raw rookie James McDonald to end the inning, but the damage was done: even a three-run blast from Manny Ramirez in the top of the 4th only brought the Dodgers to within three runs.
The score stayed at 8-5 for the rest of the game. Chad Durbin relieved Myers at the start of the 6th, while McDonald kept the Phillies' bats in check for 3 1/3innings, and fellow rookie Clayton Kershaw followed him with more of the same. The Dodgers mounted a small threat in the 7th, off J.C. Romero, when Kemp walked after two outs, and pinch hitter Nomar Garciaparra moved him to third with a single, but Ryan Madson got Casey Blake to fly out to end the inning. Brad Lidge came in to pitch the 9th with a two-run lead. He did walk two batters - Ramirez and Loney - but struck out the three other men he faced, including Kemp and Garciaparra who were both representing the tying run when they went down swinging.
 Game 3 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Hiroki Kuroda (1-0), LP: Jamie Moyer (0-1)|
|Home Runs: LA - Rafael Furcal (1)|
- Attendance: 56,800
The Dodgers were in a must-win situation in Game 3, and did not waste any time imposing their dominance on the Phillies. Joe Torre had made one change to the Dodger line-up, substituting the right-handed hitting Nomar Garciaparra for James Loney at first base, to face the veteran lefty Jamie Moyer. Charlie Manuel sent in his standard line-up against rookie Japanese right-hander Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda got the Phils out in order in the top of the 1st, with Chase Utley being caught stealing at second on a close play to end the inning. The Dodgers then started pounding Moyer. Lead-off hitter Rafael Furcal singled, as did Andre Ethier. Manny Ramirez singled for a first run, and Russell Martin was hit by a pitch on his knee to load the bases. Moyer struck out Garciaparra, but gave up another run-scoring single to Casey Blake, before striking out Matt Kemp. At that point, he could have gotten out of the inning with minimal damage in spite of the slew of baserunners, and even ran a two-strike count on rookie Blake DeWitt, but DeWitt stroked a ball deep into Dodger Stadium's right feld corner for a base-clearing triple. The Dodgers were up 5-0 after one inning.
Philadelphia got one of those runs back in the second when Ryan Howard led off with a double, and Pedro Feliz drove him in after two outs. But Los Angeles replied immediately when Furcal led off the bottom of the inning with a home run that made it 6-1. One batter later, Moyer was removed in favor of Clay Condrey, having made his shortest start in a decade. The game was then marred by some extra-curricular activity. Condrey almost hit Russell Martin with a pitch that the Dodgers thought was intentional. In the 3rd, Kuroda threw a ball behind Shane Victorino's head. Both pitchers were warned by home plate umpire Mike Everitt, but when Victorino grounded out to first base to end the inning, he exchanged words with Kuroda and both benches emptied as players and coaches jawed and glared at each other. Seven players and coaches later received fines as a result of these incidents.
Back to the action, Kuroda was dominant, retiring 13 consecutive batters between the 2nd and the 6th, while the Dodgers added a seventh run in the 4th, off rookie J.A. Happ. Ramirez and Martin walked after two outs, then Garciaparra singled to left. Ramirez never hesitated, running at full blast for home, perhaps hoping for a collision with catcher Carlos Ruiz (there was still some bad blood left from a ball thrown near Manny's head in Game 2), but Feliz cut off the throw at third and threw to shortstop Jimmy Rollins who caught Martin between second and third base and tagged him out. The Phillies led off the 7th with three consecutive hits off Kuroda, the last being a bloop single by Pat Burrell that scored Utley. Cory Wade relieved Kuroda, and there was no further scoring in the game, with Jonathan Broxton pitching the 9th after Wade had gotten six outs.
 Game 4 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Ryan Madson (1-0), LP: Cory Wade (0-1), SV: Brad Lidge (3)|
|Home Runs: LA - Casey Blake (1); PHI - Shane Victorino (1), Matt Stairs (1)|
- Attendance: 56,800
The Phillies took a commanding 3 games to 1 lead in the series with a 7-5 victory in Game 4 with a late show of power. Manager Charlie Manuel had taken a bit of a gamble in using his fourth starter, Joe Blanton, against the Dodgers' ace, Derek Lowe, while for his part Joe Torre inserted the speedy Juan Pierre into his line-up at CF, but had him batting 8th and not in his more customary lead-off spot.
The Phillies scored two runs in the 1st inning before Lowe could find his bearings: Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a single and Jayson Werth did the same, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Chase Utley followed with a double and Ryan Howard with a ground out to make it 2-0, and Lowe issued a walk to Pat Burrell before getting Shane Victorino to ground into a double play to end the inning. The Dodgers replied immediately with one run, courtesy of a bunt single by Rafael Furcal and a two-out double by James Loney. They then took the lead in the 5th when Furcal drew a lead-off walk followed by a single by Andre Ethier; Manny Ramirez hit a run-scoring single and Russell Martin grounded out to make it 3-2 for Los Angeles.
The Phillies tied up the game in the 6th, after Clayton Kershaw had relieved Lowe. Howard walked and Burrell singled, then Victorino laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners by 90 feet. Pedro Feliz was called in to pinch hit for Greg Dobbs, and Torre replied by bringing in right-hander Chan Ho Park. Feliz hit a sacrifice fly that tied the score at 3-all, but the strategizing continued. After Burrell advanced to third on a wild pitch and Carlos Ruiz walked, Manuel sent in the left-handed Geoff Jenkins to pinch-hit for Blanton, prompting Torre to reply with the lefty Joe Beimel, prompting Manuel in turn to remove Jenkins in favor of right-hander So Taguchi. After all that maneuvering, Taguchi flied out to center to end the inning.
The Dodgers got the lead back in the bottom of the 6th, facing reliever Chad Durbin. Casey Blake greeted him with a home run, Pierre then doubled and Matt Kemp, batting for Beimel, drew a walk. Scott Eyre came in to face Furcal, who laid down a bunt; Howard picked it up, but threw wildly, allowing Pierre to score and Kemp and Furcal to end up on third and second base respectively. However, the Dodgers wasted their chance to blow the game open, as Ethier lined out to first, Ramirez was - unsurprisingly - intentionally walked, and Martin lined into a double play off Ryan Madson. After a scoreless 7th, the Phillies manufactured their winning push. Howard led off with a single off Hong-Chih Kuo; Cory Wade came in to pitch, but after an out surrendered a game-tying home run to Victorino. He retired Feliz for the second out, but then allowed a single to Ruiz. Jonathan Broxton relieved him, but pinch hitter Matt Stairs, who was clearly swinging for broke, drove a ball to the right field pavillion to put the Phillies ahead, 7-5.
The Phillies still had to register the last six outs. Lefty J.C. Romero got the first two of these, and then left for closer Brad Lidge, who immediately put himself in hot water. Ramirez hit a long double, then Martin struck out, but was safe on a wild pitch. However, Lidge got Loney to fly out to left for the last out of the inning, then came back to pitch a 1-2-3 9th inning to earn his third save of the series.
 Game 5 @ Dodger Stadium
|WP: Cole Hamels (2-0), LP: Chad Billingsley (0-2)|
|Home Runs: PHI - Jimmy Rollins (1); LA - Manny Ramirez (2)|
- Attendance: 56,800
The Philadelphia Phillies earned a place in the 2008 World Series with a 5-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5. Once again, the Phillies received a top-notch performance from lefthander Cole Hamels, who gave up a single run in seven innings of work and was named the Series' MVP. For the Dodgers, more hitting heroics from Manny Ramirez were not enough, as the rest of the line-up's bats were kept in check by the Phils' pitchers.
The Phillies got on the board immediately when Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a home run off Chad Billingsley, the loser of Game 2. The Dodgers' young number two starter had another tough outing, giving up two more runs in the 3rd before being removed by manager Joe Torre after only 2 2/3 innings of work. In the 3rd, Rollins again started things off with a walk and a stolen base. Chase Utley drew another walk with two outs. Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell both followed with singles for a 3-0 lead. With Hamels at the top of his game, this was already a sizeable lead, and it became nearly insurmountable when shortstop Rafael Furcal had a nightmare 5th inning. Furcal committed three errors, tying an unenviable record set in the 1966 World Series by Willie Davis, leading to two more Philadelphia runs.
The damage started with Utley on first and Howard on second with one out, as the result of two singles and a fielder's choice. Furcal first booted Burrell's potential double play grounder, then threw wildly to first for a second error, allowing Utley to score and Howard and Burrell to go to third and second. Greg Maddux walked Shane Victorino intentionally to load the bases and struck out Pedro Feliz. Carlos Ruiz hit another ground ball at Furcal, who made another wild throw leading to a second unearned run in the inning and a 5-0 Phillies lead. Manny Ramirez got the Dodgers' lone run of the night on a solo home run to right field with two outs in the 6th, but there was no follow-up from the Dodgers' offense. Ryan Madson came in to pitch the 8th and Brad Lidge for the 9th; neither reliever gave up more than a single in wrapping up the Series for the Phils.
 Further Reading
- Gary Matthews and Scott Lauber: Phillies Confidential: The Untold Inside Story of the 2008 Championship Season, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2008.
- Jayson Stark: Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2009.
|Major League Baseball National League Championship Series