With one more loss to the Phillies, CC Sabathia and the Milwaukee Brewers will have all winter to rest.
Brett Myers rankled Sabathia with a pesky at-bat and dominated the rest of the Brewers from the mound, and Philadelphia beat Milwaukee 5-2 on Thursday night behind Shane Victorino's grand slam for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five NL playoff series.
Myers allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings, pulling the Phillies within one win of the NL championship series.
Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero worked the eighth, and Brad Lidge had a suspense-free ninth for a change.
Pitching on three days' rest for the fourth consecutive start, Sabathia had his worst outing since joining the Brewers in a trade with Cleveland on July 7.
The burly left-hander allowed five runs and six hits — all for extra bases — in 3 2-3 innings. He walked four, his second-highest total of the season.
"When you've got a guy like CC on the ropes you've got to take advantage," Victorino said.
Now, Sabathia might have to wait six months for his next start. And, that might be in a different uniform. The 28-year-old will be one of the most sought-after free agents at the end of the season.
The Phillies are closing in on their first trip to the NLCS in 15 years. Game 3 is Saturday night in Milwaukee, with 45-year-old Jamie Moyer (16-7) pitching for the NL East champions against Dave Bush (9-10).
Sabathia was 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA in 17 starts for Milwaukee, almost single-handedly leading the wild-card Brewers to their first postseason berth since 1982.
Evan Longoria and the Tampa Bay Rays looked perfectly at home in the playoffs.
The rookie homered in his first two at-bats and the surprising AL East champions were a big hit in their postseason debut, beating the Chicago White Sox 6-4 Thursday in their AL playoff opener.
After 10 seasons as baseball's doormat, Tampa Bay took the division with the best home record in the majors. And there were no October jitters as the young Rays kept winning at Tropicana Field behind James Shields' effective start and Grant Balfour's bases-loaded escape.
The Rays ranked near the bottom of the attendance charts this year, yet were cheered on by a sellout crowd of 35,041. Game 2 is Friday, when Tampa Bay's Scott Kazmir (12-8) faces Mark Buehrle (15-12).
"We want to win both of them now. We have such an advantage at home," Longoria said.
Chicago beat Minnesota in the AL Central tiebreaker Tuesday, and took a 3-1 lead on Dewayne Wise's three-run homer in the third inning. But Javier Vazquez, who has a history of flopping in big games, could not hold it.
Longoria became the second player to homer in his first two postseason at-bats, joining Gary Gaetti from 1987.
Longoria started the year in the minors and became an All-Star third baseman in the majors. He hit 27 homers despite missing 30 games with a broken right wrist.
He homered on his very first postseason pitch, a leadoff drive in the second. He put Tampa Bay ahead 4-3 with another solo shot in the third, a homer off one of the infamous catwalks that support the roof at Tropicana.
"I was just looking for a pitch out over the plate I could hit," Longoria said.
He also had a RBI single and finished 3-for-3 with three RBIs.
CHICAGO — Manny Ramirez and the Dodgers look ready to run the shaky Chicago Cubs out of the playoffs early and extend their championship drought to 100 years.
Ramirez hit a mammoth homer to extend his postseason record, Russell Martin had a three-run double and the Los Angeles Dodgers took advantage of four errors by the clumsy Cubs in a 10-3 victory Thursday night that gave them a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five NL division series.
"We're going to L.A., we need one more win. We're not there yet," Ramirez said. "They're the best team in the National League and anything could happen."
But unless the Cubs can show some semblance of the team that won 97 games this season, they're headed to another disappointing finish. Each infielder made an error during the game and the Dodgers scored four unearned runs in the second inning to jump ahead 5-0.
"It wasn't good baseball. In fact, the last two days, that's probably been the two worst games we've played all year," frustrated manager Lou Piniella said. "It wasn't fun to watch, I'll tell you that."
Chicago became the 23rd major league team to lose the first two games at home in a best-of-five playoff series, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Only one has come back to win—the 2001 New York Yankees against Oakland.
Of course, that Yankees team was managed by Joe Torre, now in the Dodgers' dugout.