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Clutch Sixth Fuels Phils To 3-2 Win

Down 2-0 in the sixth inning, Shane Victorino faced off against Derek Lowe. The speedster hit a tough grounder to Rafael Furcal, who had the play, but rushed it, overthrowing the ball and giving Victorino two bases. With that small opening, Chase Utley made the best of it with a two-run shot to right field. Two batters later, Pat Burrell lined a homer to left, giving the Phils a 3-2 lead, one they’d hold to take game one of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.

The sixth was a huge inning for the Phils — they took clear advantage of a slightly fazed Lowe, and Utley drove the first hanging sinker he saw into the seats. That’s all they needed to change the game.

The three runs gave Cole Hamels a win. Hamels was good, only getting beat by a Manny Ramirez moonshot that landed a few inches short of a home run, and a sac fly that scored the doubling Matt Kemp. He threw a lot of pitches, but really, a big start for Hamels in his first LCS outing. (By the way, Lowe was stunning — his pitches remained low, he was practically unhittable until that sixth.)

Hamels also made a big play on the other side. Maybe the key to the game was Hamels’ base hit off Lowe in the fifth inning (preceded by a Carlos Ruiz single — one of two hits for him). With the unexpected hit, Hamels woke up the crowd and turned the lineup around. Victorino would lead off the sixth, and that’s when it all turned around.

With a 3-2 lead, Ryan Madson took the eighth with gusto, flushing out the heart of the Dodger order with his fantastic changeup and blazing fastball. He bridged it to Brad Lidge, who dumped Los Angeles in an easy ninth frame. The bullpen was huge — the pitching was huge. This win was huge.

Associated Press photo

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