PHILADELPHIA -- Elian Herrera had a very simple plan when he walked to the plate in the top half of the ninth inning at Citizens Bank Park on Monday.
The rookie utility man had a chance to give the Dodgers the lead against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, and after what felt like an eternity in the Minor Leagues, nine years to be exact, this was the opportunity of a lifetime.
"Contact," Herrera said. "Just put the ball in play and something can happen."
Herrera singled home Dee Gordon, who had tripled to lead off the inning, as the Dodgers beat the Phillies, 4-3, on a chilly evening at Citizens Bank Park. Papelbon thought he had Gordon struck out on a 1-2 pitch, but home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn -- who earlier had tossed Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman and manager Don Mattingly -- felt differently, and Gordon made his extra chance count to set the table for Herrera.
"It was bad both ways," Mattingly said of Reyburn. "I'm sure Papelbon is not a happy camper right now."
"I thought he was terrible all day," Papelbon said. "Not just that pitch. All day. And I wanted to know if he could throw me out for what I was thinking.
"All night long. From [Dodgers starter Clayton] Kershaw to [Phillies starter] Vance [Worley] all the way through the ninth inning, and it really affected the game. It affected the outcome of the game."
That said, Herrera had to make the most of his chance in a season he has made the most of every chance he's been handed. On this night, that meant a single to score Gordon for a 4-3 lead and a diving catch in center for the second out of the ninth.
"I know what kind of pitcher he is," Herrera said. "At that moment, he doesn't want to throw me a breaking pitch with [Andre] Either behind me, so I know I just need to make contact.
"[That catch] was awesome. It was the right play in the right moment. As soon as I saw the ball was hit, I knew I had a chance. I just went and made the catch."
With the game tied at 3, Kershaw worked out of a seventh-inning jam that saw him surpass 100 pitches for the night.
With one out, Freddy Galvis singled. After a strikeout, Jimmy Rollins hit a flare into left on Kershaw's 101st offering to put runners at first and second with two outs. Placido Polanco, who tied the game with a two-run home run in the third, hit a soft liner up the middle. Second baseman Jerry Hairston dove to catch the ball but missed it and then his toss was wide of Gordon at second base, leaving the bases loaded. Kershaw then coaxed a groundout by Hunter Pence to end the threat.
"I felt like [Kershaw] used everything tonight," Mattingly said. "He used his changeup early. He left one slider up to Polanco.
"To me, that's what he does. He's not going to give in when he gets in trouble. He bears down and gets himself out of most stuff."
"I don't know how Rollins hit that ball," said Kershaw, talking about the seventh-inning jam. "Then Polanco getting a jam shot up the middle was frustrating. But it was big to get out of it and give our team a chance."
The Dodgers (34-21) got off to a fast start as they jumped on Phillies starter Vance Worley for a pair of runs in the first inning. In a sign of things to come, Worley and the Phillies (28-28) had doubts about Reyburn's strike zone on a pair of one-out walks to Herrera and Andre Either that set the table for Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu.
Rivera, activated from the 15-day DL earlier in the day, singled into right to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Abreu, making his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park since he was traded away by the Phillies to the New York Yankees on July 30, 2006, followed with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
The lead went to 3-0 before the Phillies stormed back with three of their own in the third to tie the game and set the stage for Herrera.
A chance Herrera was more than happy to exploit.
"I just want to be in the game," Herrera said. "Everybody asks me what is my favorite position, and I don't care. I just want to play. I truly love this game, and every time I see my name in the lights, I feel happiness."
Mike Radano is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.