Matt Stairs has played 16 major league seasons, and at age 40, with 1,313 career hits, he had the biggest hit of his life Monday night.
Stairs exploded a Jonathan Broxton pitch into the Los Angeles night sky, delivering the two-run blow that handed the Phillies a 7-5 win over the Dodgers. The Phillies lead 3-1 in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, and are one win away from the sixth World Series berth in franchise history.
The homer by the 40-year-old roughian capped off an incredible eighth inning. Ryan Howard sliced a base hit to bring up Shane Victorino, who hit — now — the biggest home run of his life, a two-run liner that tied the game. Carlos Ruiz — a forgotten gem — got a hit off Broxton to extend the inning, giving Stairs his shot. The man never swung it so well.
The win went to Ryan Madson, who was part of a fantastic Phillies bullpen. Around him was Scott Eyre, who fell victim to a run via a Howard error; JC Romero, who magically slung a double play in the eighth; and Brad Lidge, who worked ferociously to get out of the eighth, then mopped up the ninth with ease for his fifth postseason save.
Joe Blanton had the start and pitched well, but only got five and left with a no-decision.
Other things to write, but the crux: Stairs’ bomb put the Phils a win away. Cole Hamels takes the hill Wednesday with the pennant on the line.
Associated Press photo