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Dodgers face uphill climb after L.A. loss

Dodgers face uphill climb after L.A. loss

LOS ANGELES -- Outfielder Manny Ramirez and pitcher Vicente Padilla were dressed and out the clubhouse door less than 10 minutes after Thursday's Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

Perhaps they felt the Dodgers are going to need all the rest they can get in preparation for Game 2 on Friday afternoon. The Dodgers were thrilled about having the home-field advantage in the NLCS. Now they better use it or they are going to be in trouble, because the next three games after Friday are in Philadelphia.

"You don't want to fall behind 0-2 against these guys," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said after an 8-6 loss to the Phillies at Dodger Stadium on Thursday. "Obviously we have to win [Friday]. You don't want to go to Philly down 0-2, but it's still a best-of-seven. You've got to win four games no matter how you do it."

Yes, it is a best-of-seven, and history strongly suggests the Dodgers need to win Friday. Since the NLCS went to seven games in 1985, there have been five series where the team with the home-field advantage lost the first two games at home.

All five teams ended up losing the series. In four of those five series, that second loss was the last game played on their home turf that season.

"Any time you win on the road, the first game is definitely a big win," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "If we were at home, it would be big. But at the same time, to get the first game, it means a whole lot. It might not mean as much as it does in a three-out-of-five deal, but in four out of seven it means a lot, too."

The Phillies are already the 11th road team to take a 1-0 advantage in the NLCS since 1985, with eight of the first 10 advancing to the World Series. The last seven road teams to win Game 1 have gone on to win the NLCS.

"We have to show up the same way we did tonight with the same attitude," Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier said. "You can't look at it as us being a game up or a game down. We felt we played well enough to win the game, it just didn't happen. We still have to keep the same urgency and hunger and passion and know you are four games away from the World Series."

The Dodgers send Vicente Padilla to the mound. He threw seven scoreless innings in a 5-1 victory over the Cardinals on Saturday. That wrapped up the Division Series for the Dodgers. That was celebratory. This one is more for survival.

"We have a lot of confidence in him," Martin said.

"We have to take the same approach as we did [in Game 1]," outfielder Matt Kemp said. "We played pretty well, at least enough to win. It just didn't happen. We have to come back with the same swagger [Friday]."

DOWN TWO AT HOME
Five teams have gone down 0-2 at home in NLCS play since '85 and none of them have advanced:
Year Team Opp Result
2007 ARI vs. COL Lost 4-0
2002 STL vs. SF Lost 4-1
2000 STL vs. NYM Lost 4-1
1998 ATL vs. SD Lost 4-2
1995 CIN vs. ATL Lost 4-0

The Phillies, being the defending World Series champions, have reason to have swagger. They also have no reason to be worried about playing in Dodger Stadium. They have now won seven of their last 10 games on the road over the past two years in the playoffs. They have won three of four at Dodger Stadium.

"We like to play," Manuel said. "I mean, we always stay in the game, and we always play out the game. I say it over and over, we definitely come to play, and we focus on today's game. Now, we'll celebrate this one for a little while, and then we'll get ready to play tomorrow. "

Dodgers manager Joe Torre expects his team to be ready after the short turnaround. He just wants to see his pitchers throw more strikes. His biggest lament after Thursday's loss was seven walks.

"We gave away too much as far as the number of walks issued," Torre said.

Or as Dodgers announcer Vin Scully said on the radio after the final out was recorded, quoting the comic strip Pogo from a long time ago, "We have met the enemy and they is us."

Torre does know something about coming back from losing the first two games at home in a best-of-seven. The Yankees lost the first two games at home in the 1996 World Series against the Braves and came back to win the Series in six.

In 1985, the Kansas City Royals lost the first two games of the World Series at home against the Cardinals and ended up winning in seven. The Mets did the exact same thing the following year against the Red Sox.

So it can be done. It just hasn't been done often and not in the NLCS. The Dodgers would prefer not to test it at all. They worked all season for home-field advantage for the NLCS and would prefer Game 2 not be the last game played at Dodger Stadium in 2009.

"The Phillies are good, we certainly respect what they've done, what they did last year and what they continue to do," Torre said. "But I just think the way we bounced back [Thursday night] ... I don't have any worries about my team's personality at this point in time. No, I'm not concerned about that."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["NLCS" ] }
{"content":["NLCS" ] }