Los Angeles Brad Lidge and the Philadelphia Phillies picked up where they left off a year ago against the Dodgers in the NL championship series.
Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez hit three-run homers, reliever Ryan Madson got a key out, and Lidge finished the Phillies’ 8-6 victory over Los Angeles in Game 1 on Thursday night.
Manny Ramirez homered, but grounded out weakly with two runners on against a struggling Madson to end the Dodgers’ two-run rally in the eighth. They stranded 10 runners in the game.
“It’s like a prize fight, we just came up a little short,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Lidge then worked around a single and a walk in the ninth, helped by a double play that made him for 3-for-3 in save chances this postseason — he posted three saves against the Dodgers in last year’s NLCS.
Lidge was perfect in save tries last season when the Phillies won the World Series, but led the majors with 11 blown opportunities this year.
“The Dodgers are a great team. They come from behind a lot so you take everyone seriously,” he said. “Honestly, for some reason, I’ve really been locked in this postseason. I felt really good mechanically. I feel like myself. I feel pretty comfortable right now.”
Home runs dominated on both sides in a game that lasted 4 hours, 2 minutes. Ruiz highlighted a five-run burst in the fifth, and Ibanez homered in the eighth for an 8-4 lead.
James Loney also connected for the Dodgers. Ramirez, baseball’s all-time postseason home run leader with 29, hit a two-run shot.
Los Angeles will start Vicente Padilla against Philadelphia’s Pedro Martinez this afternoon in Game 2.
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels thrived under pressure last October, earning NLCS and World Series MVP honors. But the left-hander hardly resembled the same pitcher in earning the victory, giving up eight hits and four runs in 51⁄3 innings.
It was his first outing since he left the ballpark in the division series against Colorado to be with his wife as she prepared to give birth.
At 21 years and 211 days, Clayton Kershaw was the youngest pitcher ever to start a Game 1 in a league championship series, and it showed.
The Dodgers lefty was tagged for five runs in the fifth, when he set an LCS record for most wild pitches in an inning with three. He also tied the record for most wild pitches in an LCS game, shared by Tommy John and Juan Guzman.
Kershaw allowed four hits in 42⁄3 innings and walked five in his second postseason career start. He worked out of the bullpen in last year’s NLCS, which the Dodgers lost 4-1 to the Phillies. He was 0-2 with a 5.23 earned-run average in two starts against them during the regular season.