Phillies swing away, Dodgers rest on off day

October 14, 2008 10:27:33 PM PDT
The Phillies took their swings Tuesday during batting practice and the Dodgers? They took the day off.

"I just thought getting away from it would probably benefit them more than anything else," manager Joe Torre said after canceling Los Angeles' workout.

Coming off a late-inning loss, the Dodgers are down 3-1 in the best-of-seven NL championship series heading into Wednesday night's Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. The day off gave Torre a few extra moments to come up with something to say with his team needing a considerable comeback.

"I'll just remind them of everything that they've accomplished to this point and to just continue to fight," he said. "You don't get to this time of year without the ability to win three, four, five games in a row."

The Dodgers are in a hole after pinch-hitter Matt Stairs' two-out, two-run homer off Jonathan Broxton capped a four-run eighth and sent the Phillies to a 7-5 victory Monday night.

"I think the fans were just as disappointed and shocked as we were," Casey Blake said after the Dodgers blew a two-run lead. "We have nothing to lose now. We need to grasp on to every positive thought we can at this time."

That's why Torre canceled the team's scheduled workout, believing another round of BP was useless.

"I sense we'll be back here with the right attitude," he said. "These guys have been playing hard. There's a little inexperience sprinkled in, but we know that. But they're certainly not afraid."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel took the opposite approach, with his team swinging freely on a warm, sunny day that offered only a hint of a breeze rustling the palm trees in left field.

"We don't want to disrupt the flow of things," Greg Dobbs said before batting practice. "There's a nice sense of realism in here. You don't want to give any team hope. You want to pounce early, score runs and put pressure on defensively."

History is on Philadelphia's side. Nine of the previous 11 teams to go up 3-1 went on to win the NLCS.

"We're anticipating something good to happen," Jimmy Rollins said. "No one is overly excited. When we get there, we'll be excited."

Chad Billingsley will start Wednesday night for the Dodgers, who need a better performance out of the 24-year-old right-hander than what he showed in Game 2. He allowed eight runs -- seven earned -- and eight hits over 2 1-3 innings in their 8-5 loss Friday in Philadelphia.

"It's pretty much do or die," he said Monday.

Billingsley took it hard after Phillies starter Brett Myers -- a career .116 hitter -- hit a go-ahead RBI single off him with two outs in the second inning, then chased Billingsley with a two-run single in the third.

"He's sensitive, yet he's very aggressive and very sure of himself," Torre said. "The tough part about playing in this postseason is to make sure you keep it as a baseball game and let the panic come from the manager and not from you. Hopefully he can get himself in that frame of mind ... you can only win one game right now and that's the game you're pitching."

Game 1 winner Cole Hamels returns for the Phillies. He staked the Dodgers to a 2-0 lead in the series opener before settling down, allowing two runs and six hits over seven innings.

"He's our guy. Any time you have your guy going you feel very confident," Dobbs said. "He finds a way to right the ship the next time out. He's going to come out with a lot of intensity and as a club, we need to feed off that."

The Phillies have built a commanding lead despite the offensive struggles of home run hitter Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, who are a combined 5-for-33 in the series. Myers, Stairs, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Pat Burrell have provided some of the team's big hits in its three come-from-behind wins.

"Who thought Myers was going to get three hits? You couldn't draw that up," pinch-hitter Geoff Jenkins said. "Even if Jimmy isn't locked in at the plate, he takes runs away in the field. He always plays defense."

Rollins hasn't come close to matching his MVP numbers from a year ago.

"This team has been built around a number of guys. There isn't just one hero, which makes everyone feel like they're involved," he said. "I was able to do something in the first series and guys weren't. Now I'm not and guys are. It's about the team."

For the Dodgers, it's about getting strong performances from Billingsley and their bullpen, which collapsed in Game 4.

"Pitching is going to be the way you get off on the right foot and get a little momentum going," Torre said. "Our goal right now is to be on that plane on Thursday."


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