Andre Ethier of the Dodgers takes ball four to drive in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded in the eighth inning of Game Two of the NLCS.
The Dodgers don't really care how the win came, what matters is that it did. The Championship Series is now tied at 1-1.
It's all a matter of perspective. Did Philadelphia blow a game? Or did the Dodgers do everything needed to earn a win?
Joe Torre doesn't care. The Dodger players don't care. The Dodger fans care least of all — what matters is the Dodgers had another dramatic come-from-behind win, this time 2-1. Now the National League Championship Series is tied one game a piece heading back to less warm Philadelphia for a Sunday contest.
For there to be drama, first there must be adversity for the victors. And there was plenty. For seven innings, it looked like this was just not the Dodgers day. Former Dodger now Phillies starter Pedro Martinez — inexplicably wearing long sleeves in 93 degree heat — could barely be touched. He gave up a couple of hits, and only two Dodger runners reached second base in the seven innings he pitched. And following the last game trend, the Dodgers went 0-2 with those runners in scoring position. After seven
But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is no Grady Little — six years ago to the day was the infamous game where the then Red Sox manager Little left Martinez in too long, gave up a lead to the Yankees and cost his team a trip to the World Series. Manuel took Martinez out after seven innings rather than risk anything else.
That's when things got dramatic. Or sloppy.
Martinez was followed by another former Dodger, Chan Ho Park, who promptly gave up a single to the struggling Casey Blake (who was then replaced by the speedy Juan Pierre on the basepaths). Then Rafael Belliard laid down an ugly sacrifice bunt — so ugly it went past a diving Park to a dead spot in the infield and Belliard had an infield single. Just like Joe Torre drew it up.
Russell Martin followed and he can't bunt either, so he gets two strikes then swings away and hits the perfect double-play ball to third base, but then second baseman Chase Utley — a Southern California boy who went to Long Beach Poly — looked like a 1983 Steve Sax and threw the ball almost into the stands for a horrific error. Pierre scored and the Dodgers had tied the game. Then came a new Phillies pitcher and a Jim Thome single, then another Phillies pitcher and a Rafael Furcal walk to load the basses.
Two batters later, another Phillies pitcher — JA Happ — walked Andre Ethier to force in the winning run.
It was beautiful or ugly, depending on how you looked at it. The sold out crowd at Dodgers Stadium thought it was a Monet.
Through all that, the Dodgers got great pitching. Vincente Padilla was throwing slow curve 40 mph slower than fastball, and that kept the Phillies off balance. Padilla made just one mistake — in the fourth he left one out over the plate and Ryan Howard hit a long solo homer to the opposite field. But that was the Phillies only run. Padilla got the huge had from Dodger fans as he left, Jonathan Broxton picked up the save. And the Dodgers got the 2-1 win.
It was a thing of beauty.