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Published: Tuesday, 10/20/2009

Rollins' double in ninth gives Phils 3-1 NLCS lead

PHILADELPHIA — These Fightin' Phils are quite the comeback kids.

Jimmy Rollins lined a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning off All-Star closer Jonathan Broxton and the Philadelphia Phillies rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-4 Monday night for a 3-1 lead in the NL championship series.

The defending World Series champions can earn their second consecutive pennant with a victory at home in Game 5 on Wednesday night. Cole Hamels, last year's NLCS and World Series MVP, will take the mound for the Phillies. Clayton Kershaw or Vicente Padilla will start for Los Angeles.

“We believe in ourselves. We believe in our ability. We know that there's 27 outs,” Rollins said after Philadelphia's fourth comeback win in the postseason. “As long as you continue to believe in good things, I believe and I think we believe that good things will happen.”

The Phillies led the NL with 43 comeback wins during the regular season.

“We always talk about it ... 27 outs to close out the game and you stay there until it's over like Yogi (Berra) said,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Trailing 4-3, the Phillies started their rally with one out in the ninth when pinch-hitter Matt Stairs walked on four pitches against Broxton. Stairs hit a two-run homer off Broxton in Game 4 of the NLCS last year at Dodger Stadium.

Broxton hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch, but pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs looped a soft liner to third for the second out.

Rollins, just 3 for 18 in the series to that point, ripped a 99 mph fastball to right-center and the ball rolled to the wall. Andre Ethier's throw toward the infield was high and off line, and Ruiz slid home without a play.

Rollins pointed in the air as he rounded second and got mobbed by teammates at third base. Even Jamie Moyer, who just had surgery on his lower abdomen, limped out and joined the celebration.

“I'm all right. I had to curl up in the fetal position and throw some punches of my own,” Rollins said before taking a cream pie in the face from a teammate.

It was the second thrilling ending to a playoff game Monday. Hours earlier, Jeff Mathis hit an RBI double with two outs in the 11th inning to give the Los Angeles Angels a 5-4 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the AL championship series.

It was the sixth time two postseason games have ended in walk-off fashion on the same day, according to STATS LLC. The previous time was Oct. 5, 2007, when Boston beat the Angels and Cleveland topped the Yankees in AL division series.

Brad Lidge got two outs in the ninth to earn the win. Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer that gave him eight straight postseason games with at least one RBI, tying Lou Gehrig's major league record set more than seven decades ago.

But J-Roll got the biggest hit for Philadelphia.

“He likes the moment,” Manuel said. “He wants to be there, and he can control his adrenaline and he can handle the moment. The bigger the stage, the better he likes to play.”

Matt Kemp had a tiebreaking, solo homer for Los Angeles, and Manny Ramirez made a shoestring catch that prevented the tying run from scoring in the sixth.

Before Rollins came through, Dodgers relievers hadn't allowed a hit in 3 1-3 innings.

“They're a very tough lineup to go through,” manager Joe Torre said. “You try to be careful. He almost dug himself out.”

Dodgers starter Randy Wolf pitched 5 1-3 effective innings against his former team while his “Wolf Pack” fan club sat in seats he left for them — and rooted against him.

George Sherrill struck out Howard with two runners on in the eighth and Broxton retired Jayson Werth on a fly ball to end the inning. At that point, Torre had made all the right moves one day after hearing criticism for starting Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3. Torre let Sherrill face Howard, even though he was 0 for 10 against Broxton.

But Broxton couldn't nail down the four-out save. Now, the Dodgers are one loss from elimination.

“He put some good wood on it and it went to the wall,” Broxton said. “It was a good game, just let it get away in the ninth.”

Trailing 4-2 in the sixth, the Phillies got within a run on Chase Utley's RBI single. Shane Victorino tripled into the left-field corner as Ramirez nonchalantly chased after it. Victorino scored on Utley's liner to right.

With two outs and runners at first and third, Raul Ibanez greeted reliever Hong-Chih Kuo with a liner to left on his first pitch. But Ramirez, known more for loafing than sensational grabs, saved the day — momentarily — for the Dodgers. Still, he was removed for defensive replacement Juan Pierre in the ninth.

Howard ripped a 3-1 pitch to the seats in right, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead in the first. The streaking slugger has driven in a run in each of the Phillies' eight playoff games this year. Gehrig's streak stretched over two World Series with the Yankees in 1928 and 1932.

“I'm just going to go up there and keep throwing my bat at the ball,” Howard said.

Making his first start since he lasted only 3 2-3 innings in Game 1 of the division series against St. Louis, Wolf gave up three runs and four hits.

Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton allowed four runs — three earned — and six hits in six innings in his first postseason start after two relief appearances against Colorado in the first round.



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