Behind their top two arms, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 in their National League first-round playoff opener on Wednesday for their first postseason victory in 15 years.
Cole Hamels pitched eight brilliant innings, Brad Lidge escaped a ninth-inning jam and Philadelphia took advantage of Mike Cameron's miscue in center field to earn its first postseason win since the 1993 World Series.
Chase Utley's two-run double slipped out of Cameron's glove in the third inning, sending Philadelphia to a 3-0 lead. Lidge allowed a run in the ninth but struck out Corey Hart with runners on second and third to end it.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is on Thursday, with ace CC Sabathia going to the mound for the wild-card Brewers on three days' rest for the fourth consecutive start. Brett Myers pitches for the Phillies.
It'll be tough for anyone to match Hamels' superb performance. The left-hander retired the first 14 batters and allowed two hits, striking out nine.
Lidge, 41-for-41 in save chances during the season, pitched out of trouble. The Brewers had the tying run at the plate when Prince Fielder fanned for the second out. After J.J. Hardy walked to put two runners on, the runners advanced on a wild pitch. But Hart struck out swinging to end it.
Making his second start since returning from surgery for a torn knee ligament, Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo got rattled after his defense fell apart in the third.
At Chicago, James Loney hit a go-ahead grand slam off a wild Ryan Dempster, Manny Ramirez and Russell Martin homered and new-look Los Angeles beat Chicago 7-2 in their playoff opener.
The Cubs entered the postseason with the best record in MLB, hoping for a fast start 100 years after their last World Series championship.
But Ramirez and manager Joe Torre, winners of six World Series crowns in the American League, wound up on top in their first playoff game together. Ramirez's homer was his 25th in the postseason, extending his own record.
It was a good omen for the Dodgers. The last time they started a postseason series with a victory was the 1988 World Series.
The Cubs will try to get even in Game 2 on Thursday night when they send mercurial right-hander Carlos Zambrano against Chad Billingsley.
Torre made his 13th straight postseason managerial appearance — the previous 12 were with the New York Yankees — and extended his record for postseason wins to 77 in a matchup with another veteran skipper, Lou Piniella.
The Cubs took a 2-0 lead on Mark DeRosa's homer in the second inning off Derek Lowe, but the Dodgers rebounded against Dempster, who had trouble finding the strike zone all night.
Dempster walked the bases loaded in the fifth, and Loney sent a 1-2 pitch over the wall in center for the grand slam that gave the Dodgers a 4-2 lead and silenced the Wrigley Field crowd.
No matter how much the Angels dominate Boston during the regular season, they can’t beat the Red Sox in October.
Jason Bay hit a two-out, two-run homer off Los Angeles ace John Lackey in the sixth inning, and the Red Sox beat the Angels 4-1 Wednesday night in the opener of their first-round AL playoff series.
“I think we proved a lot,” Bay said.
The Angels won eight of nine regular-season games between the teams this year, outscoring the Red Sox 42-17 in the final six. But the Red Sox have won 10 straight postseason games against the Angels dating to 1986, including first-round sweeps in 2004 and 2007 en route to World Series titles.
The World Series champion Red Sox tied a major league record for consecutive postseason wins over the same opponent, a mark Oakland set against the Red Sox from 1988-03.
Acquired in the three-team trade that sent Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers two months ago, Bay brought Boston back from a 1-0 deficit in the first postseason game of his career, and the Red Sox got a big start from John Lester (1-0), who allowed only an unearned run in seven innings.
“We had some chances early, and couldn’t get some hits to fall in,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Lester was on his game. He’s having a terrific year. He’s got a great arm and his velocity was up a bit from earlier in the year and he was able to get the fastball on both sides of the plate.”