PHILADELPHIA – Powered by Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and all those other big bats, the Philadelphia Phillies are headed back to the World Series.
Werth hit two home runs, Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz also connected and the defending champions beat the Los Angeles Dodgers, 10-4, in Game 5 on Wednesday night to win their second straight NL pennant.
Brad Lidge closed it out, Howard was selected NL Championship Series MVP and manager Charlie Manuel’s Phillies became the first team to reach consecutive World Series since the New York Yankees in 2000-01.
“Big games call for big times,” Werth said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going. We’ve got four more games to win.”
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Now, Jimmy Rollins and crew wait for their next opponent. They’ll go for their third World Series title beginning next Wednesday night at New York or Los Angeles. The Yankees lead the Angels 3-1 in the ALCS, which resumes tonight at Angel Stadium.
Philadelphia overcame another shaky outing by 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels.
Meanwhile, slugger Manny Ramirez, manager Joe Torre and the rest of the Dodgers go home after leading the NL with 95 wins in the regular season and sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the division series.
Los Angeles closed to 9-4 in the eighth, but Ryan Madson escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Russell Martin and retiring Casey Blake on a grounder.
After beating Tampa Bay in last year’s World Series, the Phillies are trying to become the first repeat champions from the NL since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76. The Yankees were the last team to win consecutive titles when they captured three in a row from 1998-2000.
“It’s not on our minds,” Werth said. “We’re taking it one pitch, one game at a time and do what we can to win games. So far, it’s been working.”
Andre Ethier, James Loney and pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson hit solo homers for the Dodgers, who also lost to the Phillies in five games in last year’s NLCS.
“It’s a crazy game,” Werth said. “We thought we had them coming into the game.”
Fireworks exploded over Citizens Bank Park after Victorino caught a fly ball for the final out. The NL East champions, who beat Colorado in four games in the opening round, met Lidge in the middle of the diamond to celebrate and began putting on hats with the stitched-in logo of “WS2009.”
After the trophy ceremonies on the field, the Phillies retreated to their clubhouse to spray champagne and celebrate.
Five pitchers tossed 42/3 strong innings in relief of an ineffective Hamels, who hasn’t been the dominant ace he was last postseason. Chad Durbin earned the win by retiring all four batters he faced, including Ramirez representing the tying run in the fifth.
Lidge, who has bounced back from a rough season with a 0.00 ERA during the playoffs, worked a scoreless ninth.
“I always believed it was going to turn around,” Lidge said. “One of the biggest things was I was starting to feel really healthy at the end of the season.”
Hamels allowed three runs and five hits in 4 innings. Still, he got a standing ovation on his way to the dugout.
Vicente Padilla, a former Phillie who was excellent in his first two playoff starts, lasted just three-plus innings and gave up six runs.
The teams combined to tie the record of seven homers in a postseason game. It was the fifth time that’s happened.
Once considered the NL’s laughingstock, the Phillies have been thinking dynasty since riding down Broad Street on flatbed trucks during the city’s first championship parade in 25 years last October.
On the 29th anniversary of their first World Series title, the Phillies became the first NL team to win two straight pennants since the Atlanta Braves did it 13 years ago.
So what if they’re the team of 10,000 losses? The sad-sack losers of the past are a distant memory in Philadelphia.
This will be Philadelphia’s seventh trip to the World Series in 127 years. The Phillies beat Kansas City in 1980 and lost in 1915, 1950, 1983 and 1993. The Yankees swept Philadelphia in ’50, winning the first three games of that series by one run.
Another sellout crowd implored their team to “Beat L.A.!” and waved their white-and-red rally towels, rocking Citizens Bank Park on a beautiful, 63-degree night. It was only 48 on Monday night.
Coming off a dramatic comeback win in Game 4, capped by Rollins’ two-run double with two outs in the ninth, the Phillies got it going with two outs in the first. Chase Utley walked to reach safely for the 25th straight postseason game, tying Boog Powell’s major league record.
Padilla wanted no part of Howard, who hit .333 with two homers and eight RBI in the series. He walked him on four pitches after firing three inside fastballs, hoping to make the big slugger a little uneasy.
Padilla then threw three straight balls to Werth. The fired-up crowd roared louder with every pitch out of the strike zone.
After taking two strikes, Werth ripped a liner to the seats in right-center field for a 3-1 lead. Fans gave Werth a curtain call and another standing ovation when he ran out to right field in the top of the second.
Werth’s solo shot off Hong-Chih Kuo gave him five homers this postseason and made it 9-3.
Ethier put the Dodgers up 1-0 in the first when he connected on a 1-2 fastball down the middle, and deposited it in the seats in right-center. Loney’s shot in the second also came on a 1-2 pitch, cutting the deficit to 3-2.
Feliz led off Philadelphia’s second with an opposite-field drive to right to make it 4-2. Raul Ibañez hit an RBI double in the fourth to chase Padilla. George Sherrill relieved Ramon Troncoso with two outs and the bases loaded and hit Victorino on a 3-2 pitch to force in another run.
Hudson, pinch-hitting for Sherrill, homered to get the Dodgers to 6-3 in the fifth. Hamels was pulled after Rafael Furcal doubled. J.A. Happ came in, walked a batter and got Ethier to fly out. Durbin entered and retired Ramirez on a dribbler to end the inning.
Victorino hit a two-run shot to left off Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw for an 8-3 lead in the sixth.
Hamels struggled all year to match his 2008 playoff form, going 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA. The slender left-hander already has had an eventful postseason. After pitching five shaky innings in a loss to Colorado in Game 2 of the division series, he left the ballpark early to join his wife, who went into labor with the couple’s first child.
Hamels earned the win in Game 1 of the NLCS, despite tossing 5 so-so innings. But he was criticized for showing up teammates by displaying his frustration after Utley and Rollins failed to convert a potential inning-ending double play that proved costly.