PHILADELPHIA --- The Dodgers arrived in the City of Brotherly Love having lost six of seven and were facing the prospect that their early-season magic might be coming to an end.
Not the case.
As Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly said after Thursday's 8-3 win over the Phillies: "Momentum's scary."
The Dodgers set the tone early in their series against the five-time defending National League East champions and held the momentum throughout, completing the franchise's first four-game sweep in Philadelphia.
"It's huge," said starting pitcher Aaron Harang, who won his 100th career game on Thursday. "People were thinking 'Oh, this is the turning point. This is where they're going to falter. They've lost some games.' That's not what this team is about. [We] want to be out here, and they're going to play until the final out is made each game. Just keep grinding it out."
The Dodgers improved to a Major League-best 37-21. They won three one-run games, then battled through another game on Thursday that was close until the ninth inning. The Dodgers' fourth straight win sends the Phillies (28-31) on a nine-game road trip with a season-high sixth consecutive loss.
Two hours before the game, Mattingly was asked what his club had to do to have success off Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels, who was undefeated in nine previous starts against Los Angeles.
The keys, Mattingly said, included having the Dodgers' starting pitcher keep the game close, but he cautioned that it would be tough if they fell behind by three or four runs. That is exactly what happened, as the Dodgers trailed by three early in Thursday's matinee.
Los Angeles didn't fold, however, and after scoring in the fourth, it battled back to take a 4-3 lead with a three-run sixth inning. After Elian Herrera walked to lead off the frame and Juan Rivera singled, James Loney hit a one-out single to plate a run. Tony Gwynn Jr. and Matt Treanor followed with two-out singles to push the Dodgers ahead by a score.
"You kind of see a win in one hand and see it evaporate," said Hamels, whose record fell to 8-3. "They have a good team, and they've got players that are playing really well. But at the same time, they're missing some of their big guys. You have to be able to jump all over a team when they're missing their All-Stars, their MVPs, their guys."
Harang, now the 35th active pitcher to win at least 100 games, allowed three runs on three hits in the third, but he was not helped by two errors. After that inning, though, he settled down. Those were the only runs the veteran right-hander allowed in six innings, improving to 5-3 this season with a 3.95 ERA.
"We didn't play very good defense for him [in the third]," said Treanor, who went 2-for-4 with the RBI single. "He came in pretty fired up and went back out there refocused and gave us some good innings. It was a good outing by him."
After the Dodgers took the lead, Jamey Wright pitched scoreless seventh and eighth innings, garnering praise from his manager.
"Jamey was outstanding," Mattingly said. "Today, he was dirty. His ball was moving good. When he's throwing strikes, he's tough."
Neither club scored in the seventh or eighth, but Los Angeles put the game out of reach in the ninth inning, scoring four runs off reliever Chad Qualls.
The Dodgers' clubhouse was full of life following their latest win, and Treanor said it's a great feeling to hop on the flight to Seattle riding a four-game sweep.
"The good feeling we have about the way we're playing's going to carry over, and that confidence," Mattingly said. "But you're not going to really have any momentum against the next club. It's gonna start all over, so [starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi] has a chance to set the tone for the series tomorrow night, and we'll see what happens."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.