One day after being done in by three Dodger home runs, the Phillies used the long ball to break open a close game, defeating the Dodgers 7-2, in the finale of their four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
To look at this another way, the Dodgers over the last two weekends have faced their two 2008 playoff opponents, and despite scoring only 2.5 runs per game, have split those eight games. Despite the recent offensive struggles, manager Joe Torre isn't worried:
We'll be fine; we're going to score runs. So many questions being asked about it I think everyone is self conscious about it and trying too hard. We had an opportunity to score some runs, they made some pitches, and some plays and we could not mount an attack. The last couple of days we have had a couple of hits back to back which is what we have not done for a while. Hopefully we come back Tuesday with a breather tomorrow and start swinging the bats a little bit better.
Randy Wolf was throwing strikes all night, and through six innings he had thrown 88 pitches. The Dodgers, trailing only 3-2, hoped to get one more inning out of Wolf before turning the game over to the bullpen. However, a pair of home runs, one by Dodger killer Carlos Ruiz and one by playoff nemesis Shane Victorino, ended Wolf's night. Wolf has given up 11 runs over 12.1 innings in his last two starts. Wolf had not lost since his first start of the season, in San Diego. He has pitched six innings or more in seven straight starts, and 11 of 13.
Alberto Bastardo got his second major league win in as many starts, as he allowed two runs over his five innings of work. Even though he only threw a first-pitch strike to seven of 23 batters, Bastardo only walked one batter (Rafael Furcal in the 3rd inning), and the Dodgers were unable to take advantage.
Travis Schlichting made his major league debut out of the bullpen tonight, and Ryan Howard promptly greeted him with a booming opposite-field home run. Torre noted it was a tough initiation to the big leagues, saying "Ryan Howard is certainly no slouch to face your first guy." Schlichting ended up pitching 1.2 innings and, despite walking three batters, only allowed the one run on Howard's homer.
The Dodgers won the season series with the Phillies, 4-3, and the accomplishment was not lost on Torre:
[The Phillies] are pretty darn good. We held our own with them. We beat them on their field and we split here, I think that was important for us to beat them on their field and that was based on the fact that they swept us four games last year plus two in the playoffs. If we do meet them in the postseason I think that is something that we do not have to concern ourselves with.
Oh well, at least the Lakers won! And if that doesn't cheer you up, surely this photo of kids running the bases after the game will cheer you up:
The Dodgers have a rare home off day tomorrow, one of three over the next eight days, followed by a short two-game series with San Diego to close out the homestand. Chad Billingsley and Tall Chris Young are the scheduled starters for Tuesday.
I'm about to leave the press box after nearly nine hours at the stadium, yet I'm not tired of being here at all. What better place could I possibly be sitting in? Even almost empty, Dodger Stadium still looks as gorgeous as ever:
WP - Antonio Bastardo (2-0): 5 IP, 7 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Randy Wolf (3-2): 6.1 IP, 8 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts