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Dodgers blow 6-run lead in 9-8 loss to Phillies

All Chad Billingsley tried to do with a six-run lead was throw the ball over the plate to the Philadelphia Phillies and let his defense do the work.

On two occasions, first baseman James Loney and third baseman Casey Blake weren't up to the task and committed costly fielding errors that led to three unearned runs. On two other occasions, Ryan Howard and Hunter Pence hit the ball where no one could reach it — except the fans in fair territory.

Howard and Pence hit two-run homers and the Phillies rallied with a four-run sixth en route to a 9-8 victory on Wednesday, completing a three-game sweep of the Dodgers. Howard's 25th homer against Blake Hawksworth (2-3) snapped a 7-all tie right after Chase Utley pulled the NL East leaders even with a two-run single against the right-hander.

"That team over there, they're not going to quit," Loney said. "They don't care what the score is, who's pitching or who's hitting. They believe they can beat you in any game and they're never out of it. I'm not happy when they beat us, but I do respect the way they play the game. They're one of the best teams playing right now, if not the best."

Billingsley couldn't get out of the fifth inning despite the big lead — but it wasn't entirely his fault. Two of the five runs he gave up in his 4 1-3 innings came in the fifth, after Blake misplayed a potential inning-ending double-play grounder by Pence that allowed Shane Victorino to score from second base.

That was all for Billingsley, who slammed his glove on the bench after returning to the dugout. Hong-Chih Kuo came in and Raul Ibanez drove in Howard with a groundout, narrowing the Dodgers' lead to 6-5.

"It hurts a little more, but they all hurt," Blake said. "Bills didn't have his good stuff today, and he'd probably admit that. But I don't care what kind of lead you've got against those guys. They keep grinding out at-bats and getting on base. They keep clawing back and clawing back — and the next thing you know, they're leading."

The Phillies began their comeback in the fourth after Billingsley walked Howard for the second time to open the inning. Pence hit his 14th homer of the season and third since joining the Phillies in a July 29 trade with Houston. Michael Martinez then reached on Loney's two-base error and scored on starting pitcher Vance Worley's single.

Loney hit an RBI double in the fifth off winning pitcher Kyle Kendrick (7-5) to make the score 7-5. But Howard drove Hawksworth's 2-1 pitch into the lower seats in the left-field corner, raising Howard's NL-leading RBI total to 91.

"They give you good at-bats all the way up and down the lineup," Blake said. "They just have a lot of weapons that can beat you — speed, power — it's just a tough lineup to pitch to. It's tough for a pitcher when you don't have your good stuff, especially against a team like that that's gonna make you work and work for your outs."

Billingsley, who gave up seven hits without striking out anyone, had to struggle to record his first out as leadoff man Jimmy Rollins ended a stubborn 15-pitch at-bat by fouling out to catcher Dioner Navarro.

"It was a great at-bat," Howard said. "He threw every pitch that he had. And for Jimmy to get the starting pitcher's pitch count up that early from the first batter of the game was key."

Billingsley finished the first inning with 30 pitches — then Worley then threw 38 pitches in the bottom half as the Dodgers batted around and took a 5-0 lead.

The Phillies rookie walked three, including Blake and Andre Ethier with one out, and Matt Kemp singled home a run to end a personal six-game RBI drought. Juan Rivera then drove Worley's 3-2 pitch to left-center for his first homer since connecting on the first pitch he saw with his new team on July 15 at Arizona. Loney walked and came all the way around on a double by Navarro, who was tagged out in a rundown just before Jamey Carroll tripled.

The Dodgers increased their lead to 6-0 in the bottom half on Navarro's sacrifice fly, but all that did was wake up the Phillies' potent offense.

"We just believe the game isn't over until the 27th out is made," Howard said. "They got ahead early, but we knew there was a lot of game left. So you just kind of chip away, get a run here and a run there, and the next thing you know you're back in the game. Vance got off to kind of a rough start, but we were able to pick him up today."

Worley, who played his college ball about 29 miles south of Dodger Stadium at Long Beach State, gave up six runs and seven hits in four innings and struck out six after coming in with an 8-1 record. The 23-year-old right-hander's ERA jumped from 2.35 to 2.85 in his sixth start since he was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the fourth time this season.

The Phillies won for the 12th time in 13 games and completed a 9-1 road trip. They improved baseball's best record to 77-40 — Philadelphia is 37 games over .500 for the first time since 1977.

Kendrick pitched one inning of relief for the win after replacing Worley. Ryan Madson, the sixth Phillies pitcher, got three outs for his 22nd save in 23 attempts, giving up a run on a groundout by Rivera before retiring pinch-hitter Rod Barajas on a flyball with the tying run at first.

NOTES: Rivera's homer ended a string of 21 singles by the Dodgers against Philadelphia pitchers without an extra-base hit since Kemp's two-run homer off reliever Michael Stutes on July 7. ... The Dodgers didn't score a first-inning run in their previous eight home games — and hadn't scored more than three in the first inning in any of their 61 previous games at Chavez Ravine this season. ... Billingsley remained 0-4 with a 5.72 ERA in his last six starts against the Phillies, including losses in Games 2 and 5 of the 2008 NL championship series. ... Kemp had four hits. He is six RBIs behind Howard, who is attempting to win his fourth NL RBI title in six seasons.