Dodgers: Broxton Blows Save, Maybe Series

Broxton blows a save and the Dodgers are on the verge of losing to the Phillies in the playoffs. Again.

Jonathan Broxton was the best closer in baseball when he pitched at Dodger Stadium, but on the road his ERA was 5.81.

Game four of the National League Championship Series was on the road in Philadelphia, and that ended up being bad news for Broxton and the Dodgers.

A hit batter, a walk and a two-out double by Jimmy Rollins that scored both runs gave the Phillies a 5-4 come-from-behind win in the bottom of the ninth inning in front of a delirious home crowd,\ Monday night. It also could mean the series — Philadelphia now leads three games to one, with the next (and potentially final) game Wednesday in the City of Brotherly Love.

But there was no love for the Dodgers.

The Dodgers had a 4-3 lead going into the ninth, and Broxton got the first batter to ground out. But then he walked pinch hitter Matt Stairs, then hit Carlos Ruiz with a fastball on the elbow. Broxton got another out before Rollins hit a 98 mph fastball to the right-center gap and won the game.

It wasted a night of clutch hitting by the Dodgers. And it wasted the rare Manny Ramirez defensive gem.

All four of the Dodgers runs came against Phillies starter Joe Blanton, and all came with two outs. The first was in the third. Kemp had walked with one out, then a batter later Ramirez singled. James Loney was next and he hit another single — the Dodgers for the first time in the series strung together a few hits to core a run. Then, after a walk to load the bases, Russell Martin singled to drive in Manny, a hit that tied the game at 2-2.

In the fifth inning, again with two outs, Kemp thought “why bother stringing all these hits together” and instead crushed a Blanton offering to dead center field for a home run. And the Dodgers had the lead 3-2. In the sixth inning, Blanton was let down by the Phillies defense. First Ramirez got on board on a Pedro Feliz error, and he eventually moved around and scored on the rare Casey Blake hit in the clutch.

Meanwhile, Dodgers starter Randy Wolf had settled down after throwing a belt-high fastball to Ryan Howard that led to a two-run home run in the first inning (that had every Dodgers fan thinking uh-oh, here we go again). He retired 14 of 15 at one point. But in the bottom of the sixth he got in trouble, eventually giving up a run-scoring single to Chase Utley, which chased Wolf from the game.

It looked for a while like the play of the game might be Manny Ramirez on defense. Seriously. After Wolf left, the Dodger bullpen got to two outs and runners on first and third, with Hong-Chih Kuo pitching to Raul Ibanez, and he hit a sinking line drive at Manny who made a running shoe string catch to save at least one run.

It looked like it was going to be that kind of night for the Dodgers, where everything went right. Los Angeles got within two strikes of tying the series. Instead, they are now one game from losing to Philadelphia in the League Championship Series for a second straight year.

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