Through the first five games of this second season, manager Charlie Manuel has found himself in positions where his decisions weighed heavily on the outcome of the game. So far, Manuel had pushed all of the right buttons, placing his talented ball-club in a position to succeed. This afternoon, however, Manuel may have out-thought and out-managed himself.
Pedro Martinez, who was making his first postseason appearance since the World Series in 2004 for Boston, pitched a gem through seven innings. With the exception of two hits throughout, Martinez had the Dodgers line-up on their heels all afternoon. He wasn’t overpowering, as he struck out just three, but he was certainly efficient, walking none. Over the seven frames, Martinez threw just 87 pitches, forcing pop-ups and ground-outs the whole time.
Martinez’s doppelganger, former Phillie Vincente Padilla rode his floatilla straight through 7.1 innings, allowing just one run on a mistake to Ryan Howard, which the big man deposited in the left-field seats. Despite the solo shot from Howard, Padilla cruised, striking out six, walking only one. Padilla held the Phils to just four hits and the offense was completely mystified by the journeyman pitcher.
When the bottom half of the eighth arrived, Martinez’s spot in the batting order was due up third. When Carlos Ruiz walked with one out, Charlie Manuel decided to take a gamble hoping to hit the big-inning jackpot. Unfortunately, the gamble required Martinez to be removed from the game after throwing just 87 pitches. The gamble didn’t pay-off as the Phillies failed to put a run on the board. The game was then placed in the shaky hands of the bullpen. The snowball effect wasn’t pretty.
Chan Ho Park entered the game and surrendered a lead-off single to Casey Blake. The next batter, Ronnie Belliard singled on a seeing-eye bunt that put runners at first and second with no outs. A double-play ball was needed and Park got one off the bat of Russell Martin, however, two mistakes were made on the play. First, Pedro Feliz, who fielded the ball had the opportunity to tag out the lead-runner moving to third(pinch-runner Juan Pierre), but opted for the conventional double-play. After getting Belliard at second, the second mistake was made as Chase Utley, for the second straight day, air-mailed the relay to first, allowing the tying run to cross the plate.
Four Dodger batters and three Phillies relievers later and rookie J.A. Happ walked Andre Ethier on a 3-2 count, with the bases juiced to give the Dodgers the 2-1 lead. It was a good at-bat from Ethier who was able to lay off a close, but low ball four from Happ.
It was all the Dodgers would need as they sent closer Jonathan Broxton to the mound to finish off the Phillies in a 1-2-3 ninth inning, getting Chase Utley to fly-out to end the game.
Both teams will get a chance to breathe as the series moves to Philadelphia for three games, starting Sunday. The two teams stand tied at a game a piece.