Phillies lead Dodgers 5-4 after 6

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LOS ANGELES —  Carlos Ruiz hit a go-ahead, three-run homer and the Philadelphia Phillies led the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 through six innings of Game 1 of the NL championship series on Thursday night.

Ryan Howard added a two-run double in Philadelphia's five-run fifth and reliever J.A. Happ escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to preserve the lead.

Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer for Los Angeles in the bottom of the fifth after Russell Martin scored on Andre Ethier's grounder.

Ethier continued to second on a throwing error by second baseman Chase Utley, who was trying to compete an inning-ending double play. The miscue set the stage for Ramirez, who hit a drive into the pavilion seats in left-center.

Ramirez is the career leader in postseason homers with 29, including four with the Dodgers, and his 79 RBIs are one behind Bernie Williams' record.

Cole Hamels, last year's NLCS and World Series MVP, didn't look anything like the pitcher who dominated the Dodgers in last year's playoffs _ allowing four runs and eight hits over 5 1-3 innings before he was lifted with runners at first and second.

Chad Durbin came in and retired Martin on a lineout to right field. Happ walked pinch-hitter and former Phillies slugger Jim Thome, loading the bases, then went 3-2 on Rafael Furcal before retiring him on a grounder to second.

Clayton Kershaw took a 1-0 lead into the fifth, thanks to James Loney's leadoff homer in the second. But he retired only two of the nine batters he faced while setting an NLCS record with three wild pitches in the inning. The only other pitchers with three in an entire NLCS game were the Angels' Tommy John in 1982 and Toronto's Juan Guzman in 1993.

Raul Ibanez triggered the Phillies' rally with a single and Kershaw walked Pedro Feliz, bringing out pitching coach Rick Honeycutt for a chat.

It didn't help.

Ruiz followed with a drive into the lower seats in the left-field corner on a 2-1 pitch for his second postseason homer, and Howard chased Kershaw with a drive into the right-field corner after a two-out walk to Utley.

The Dodgers, coming off a three-game sweep of St. Louis in the division series, are in the NLCS for the ninth time overall and fifth time against Philadelphia _ the most any two teams have met in the LCS. The Phillies beat Los Angeles last season in five games before going on to win their second World Series title in franchise history.

Kershaw, who was 0-3 with a 6.64 ERA in his four previous career starts against Philadelphia, got three of his outs on flyballs to the warning track _ by Utley in the first, Howard in the second, and Jayson Werth in the fourth after a two-out walk to Howard.

The Dodgers' 21-year-old left-hander became the youngest pitcher to start Game 1 of a league championship series, and the third-youngest to start the opening game of any postseason series behind former Dodgers pitcher Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Rick Ankiel (2000).

Kershaw picked up a no-decision in Game 2 of the division series against St. Louis last Thursday in Los Angeles, giving up two runs over 6 2-3 innings before his teammates rallied for a 3-2 win on pinch hitter Mark Loretta's game-ending RBI single.

Hamels came in 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA in six career starts against Los Angeles, including a pair of victories in the 2008 NLCS.

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