10/10/08 1:04 AM ET
Homers hurt Dodgers in Game 1
Lowe allows two long balls in Phils' three-run sixth inning
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Philadelphia Phillies are not the Chicago Cubs: They battle from behind, they won't be swept, they beat your proven big-game pitcher.
They did it to Derek Lowe on Thursday night, 3-2, flexing their long-ball muscles in a quick but decisive display. They rallied in the opener of the best-of-seven series with a pair of home runs that beat the Dodgers for the fifth straight time this year in Citizens Bank Park, whose quirky dimensions worked against the visitors all night.
The two-run tying home run Chase Utley slugged in the three-run sixth inning landed in the right-field bleachers, but right fielder Andre Ethier knows where it would have landed had the game been at Dodger Stadium.
"In my glove," he said. "It was a popup."
"I told Utley, 'That's no home run in L.A.,' " said Manny Ramirez. "But we're not in L.A."
On Pat Burrell's solo shot one out later, estimated by the Phillies at 360 feet, Ramirez turned and watched in hopes of playing the carom, but the liner cleared the left-field fence. Utley came into the game hitting .357 off Lowe lifetime, Burrell .316.
"Utley's isn't [a home run] in our park and Burrell's probably isn't, either," said Lowe, who screamed at himself while Utley toured the diamond. "But so what? Who cares about the what-if game? We're playing in the same park. There's no excuses. It doesn't matter. Hit it over the fence, they're souvenirs, we lost.
"It's a tough loss. I feel like I was pitching fairly well, and the next thing you know, we're down a game."
Lowe, who could come back for Games 4 and 7, was less concerned with the ballpark than he was the two flat sinkers that ruined the five scoreless innings that preceded them. He especially was second-guessing himself for the home run pitch to Utley in with the Dodgers leading, 2-0.
It followed a throwing error by shortstop Rafael Furcal on a grounder by Shane Victorino, Furcal rushing a throw that pulled James Loney off the bag at first base.
"The ball slipped out of my hand," said Furcal, playing in only his eighth game after missing nearly five months with a back injury that needed surgery.
Loney tried to find the bag with his left foot while reaching in the opposite direction for the ball, missing both. Victorino wound up on second.
|Since the League Championship Series moved to a seven-game format in 1985, teams that have taken 1-0 leads have won 29 of the 46 series combined between the two leagues.|
|National League: 16-7|
|American League: 13-10|
"I don't think he got flustered or bothered by the error, either one," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
The crowd, sensing an opportunity for the Phillies to get back into the game, raised the decibel level and waved rally towels. Lowe said he was not unnerved by the commotion, but he committed a game-losing mistake nonetheless.
Utley had struck out his previous at-bat, Lowe throwing five consecutive sliders. But his first pitch to Utley this time was a sinker, and not like the ones that he'd used to shut down the Phillies to that point. This one flattened and Utley lifted it.
"I kind of made, for me, a mental mistake," said Lowe, who had lost only one of his previous 11 starts. "I knew he was going to swing, and I would have been better off throwing a non-competitive pitch and my instincts were right. I should have known better. Any time you're pitching on the road and the crowd gets into it, be cautious. I got aggressive. I shouldn't have thrown that pitch. My first instinct was to throw something else. [Catcher] Russell [Martin] put down the sinker. It's completely my fault."
And just like that, the game turned. The Dodgers had taken a 2-0 lead on Cole Hamels, although they'll say it should have been more. They scored in the first inning on consecutive one-out doubles by Ethier and Ramirez, Manny's striking the railing in the deepest part of the park, high above the 409-foot sign in center.
"I thought it was out, but I guess I have to work on my angles," Ramirez said, jokingly. "What can I say?"
An overanxious Martin chased a high fastball to strike out. Loney walked and a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, but Matt Kemp flied out. Loney struck out to end the third inning with runners on first and second.
The Dodgers scored their other run in the fourth, a ground-rule double by Kemp cashed in with Blake DeWitt's sacrifice fly. But the offense couldn't get a runner past first after that fourth inning. Hamels went seven innings, followed by an inning each from Ryan Madsen and Brad Lidge.
"He pitched a great game, that's why he wins 15 to 17 games every year," Ramirez said of Hamels. "We've got to come back tomorrow and keep fighting. They're not going to give it to us. If we play hard like we played tonight, something will happen."
Meanwhile, other than Furcal's wildness, the Dodgers defense turned several hits into outs, with second baseman DeWitt making seven plays, two of them double plays.
And the bullpen finished with 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Chan Ho Park got the final two outs in the sixth, Greg Maddux made his second relief appearance of the postseason with a scoreless seventh and Hong-Chih Kuo went 1-2-3 through Victorino, Utley and Ryan Howard in only his second game in a month after missing the NLDS with a sore left triceps.
"Tomorrow will be the first [playoff] game we're going after somebody after we lose," said Torre. "And I think I'll get a sense tomorrow if I feel anything different, but my sense is I won't. I think these kids have a lot of confidence in themselves."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.