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Offensive might pushed Phils past Dodgers

Offensive might pushed Phils past Dodgers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies had league-leading offensive firepower that did to the Dodgers what they did to the National League all season.

They had the one big ace in their rotation that could quickly erase the sting of a tough loss in Game 2. They had a bullpen that was better than expected, matching the Dodgers' league-leading bullpen almost inning-for-inning.

In short, the Phillies had everything they needed to take down the Dodgers in five games in the NL Championship Series and advance to the World Series for the second straight year.

"They did pretty much everything better than we did," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said in summing up the 2009 NLCS.

The Phillies' offensive muscle stood out more than anything. They simply bludgeoned the Dodgers back to Los Angeles.

The Phillies, despite hitting just .231, scored 35 runs in the five-game series, the fourth-most by a team in NLCS history. Their .500 slugging percentage was the third-highest and their 10 home runs tied for the fourth-most in an NLCS. No team has scored 35 runs or hit 10 home runs in an NLCS that went less than seven games.

Ryan Howard led the way for most of the series and he was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player. But in Game 5, the second half of the lineup turned it on against Dodgers pitching.

Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz were 4-for-41 with two home runs in the first four games of the series. On Wednesday night, they were 5-for-12 with three home runs and five RBIs. Werth hit two home runs, given him three for the series.

"It was really a total team effort," Howard said after receiving his MVP trophy.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel brought up his offense immediately when asked what the difference was in the series.

Back so soon?
The Phillies became the 12th reigning World Series champion to repeat as league champs since divisional play began in 1969. Seven of the 11 previous clubs went on to repeat as World Series champions.
Year Team Next year
2008 Phillies TBD
2000 Yankees Lost to Diamondbacks
1999 Yankees Defeated Mets
1998 Yankees Defeated Braves
1995 Braves Lost to Yankees
1992 Blue Jays Defeated Phillies
1989 A's Lost to Reds
1977 Yankees Defeated Dodgers
1975 Reds Defeated Yankees
1973 A's Defeated Dodgers
1972 A's Defeated Mets
1970 Orioles Lost to Pirates

"First of all we were able to score runs," Manuel said. "Our lineup is outstanding when we're hitting. We hit spurts sometimes, and of course every team does that. But at the same time, I think if you look down through our lineup, we've got guys that are dangerous, and our power shows up, even in our seventh hole.

"A lot of times we win games just because of our power and the fact that we can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We need to be a little bit more consistent ... but right now for the National League I think we're outstanding, and we can stay after you, and we could put a big number on you any time during the game."

The Dodgers just couldn't match the Phillies' firepower. Manny Ramirez had a two-run home run in Game 1, but those were his only two RBIs of the series. Rafael Furcal was 3-for-21 at the top of the order and did not score a run. For the series, the Dodgers batted just .194 with runners in scoring position while producing 16 runs in five games.

"I think everybody did a great job," Ramirez said. "Last year was a learning experience for a lot of players. We played great, but we didn't come through this year. We played a better team."

The series obviously turned in the ninth inning of Game 4. The Dodgers had a 4-3 lead with closer Jonathan Broxton on the mound and were 78-3 during the regular season when they had a lead going into the ninth inning. But the Phillies rallied to win on Jimmy Rollins' two-out, two-run double. It was the pivotal moment of the series. If the Dodgers win that game, the series goes back to Los Angeles.

The Dodgers could not recover from that. Their bullpen was supposed to be their advantage but it let them down twice in crucial moments. Left-handed reliever George Sherrill gave up a three-run home run to Ibanez in Game 1 that provided the winning margin in an 8-6 loss.

NL Championship Series
Gm. 1 PHI 8, LAD 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 LAD 2, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 PHI 11, LAD 0 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 PHI 5, LAD 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 10, LAD 4 Wrap Video

"We have to pitch better," Torre said. "You know, whether it's the starter or the reliever, that's the one thing that's going to expose you more than anything else is being able to get those outs."

The Dodgers bullpen was the best in the National League this year but their rotation wasn't bad either. Dodgers starters had a 3.58 ERA during the season, tied for second-best in the league.

Torre also had time to set his rotation any way he wanted. The Dodgers swept the Cardinals in the first round, giving Torre four days to line up his starters for the NLCS. But just about every big decision he made did not work out and the Dodgers.

He went with Clayton Kershaw in the first game and the 21-year-old left-hander couldn't get through the fifth, giving up five runs. Torre went with Hiroki Kuroda, who missed the NL Division Series with a herniated disk in his neck, in Game 3 instead of activating Jon Garland, who had a 2.72 ERA in six September starts and who also pitched well for the White Sox in the 2005 playoffs. Kuroda was knocked out in the second inning.

Other than a brilliant pitching performance by Vicente Padilla in Game 2, little went right for the Dodgers in this series. The Phillies were clearly better, especially at the plate.

"I think we know now that we belong," Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake said. "We're a good team. We belong here. We have that confidence. Playing in the postseason two straight years will certainly help us. We just need to find a way to get over the top."

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

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