Fielding the Phillies' 8-6 Game 1 win over the Dodgers on a short hop ...
In < 25 words ...
Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit three-run homers and the Phillies' bullpen barely hung on to take control of the NLCS.
Ruiz teed off on a high 2-1 fastball from Clayton Kershaw, launching a line drive over the left-field wall for a three-run home run. Ruiz's blast gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead in the fifth; they would add two more runs -- and chase Kershaw -- later in the inning.
Big number 11 -- Number of road teams to win Game 1 of the NLCS since it moved to a best-of-seven format in 1985. Eight of the first 10 squads advanced to the World Series.
Ruiz delivered the Phillies' biggest blow Thursday, hitting a three-run home run that sparked a five-run Philadelphia fifth. Ruiz, a .246 career regular-season hitter, is bating 16-for-48 (.333) with two homers and 10 RBIs in postseason play since the start of last year's NLCS against the Dodgers.
Park had not pitched since Sept. 16 because of a strained right hamstring -- an injury that kept him off the Phils' Division Series roster. So his first task in nearly a month was to navigate the heart of the Dodgers' order with the potential tying run on second base. His fastball reached 96 mph, with movement, which was sufficient to retire Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake in order.
Ibanez gave the Phillies some breathing room in the eighth inning. After Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth walked, Ibanez hit a three-run home run just to right off Dodgers lefty George Sherrill. The left-handed-hitting Ibanez slugged 13 homers against left-handed pitching this season.
Sense of October
With two men on, the potential tying runs on base and the Dodger Stadium crowd on its feet, Ryan Madson faced Ramirez in perhaps the most important at-bat of the game. Madson won the battle, as Ramirez grounded weakly to third to end the inning.
Lines of the Game
Hitting Carlos Ruiz 3 AB, 2 H, HR, 3 RBI, R, BB Comment: Ruiz had not homered since Sept. 8, nearly five weeks ago. But he's a different hitter in October and at Dodger Stadium, where he has had the most success of any ballpark. On Thursday, he made Kershaw pay for leaving a fastball up and over the middle of the plate.
Pitching Cole Hamels 5 1/3 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, BB, 4 K, 2 HR Comment: Hamels pitched pretty well through four innings, allowing a James Loney solo homer but only two other hits. Yet Hamels allowed a two-run home run to Ramirez in the fifth and was removed one inning later after allowing consecutive one-out singles. He has a 6.97 ERA in two '09 postseason starts after going 4-1 with 1.80 ERA during last year's World Series run.
Pedro Martinez has thrown just seven innings over the past month, but he will start Game 2 on Friday. If he's as good as in his last postseason outing -- when he tossed seven shutout innings in the 2004 World Series -- the Phillies could head back to Philadelphia with a 2-0 series lead.
"Now, we'll celebrate this one for a little while, and then we'll get ready to play tomorrow. When we come out, we don't look behind us and we don't look ahead." -- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.