PHILADELPHIA — There will be no Freeway World Series this year, unless it’s a freeway — or turnpike — that connects Philadelphia and New York City.
The Dodgers were the first Southern California team to officially bow out of Major League Baseball’s version of the Final Four on Wednesday night, and the Angels are one loss from joining them on local golf courses.
The Dodgers proved during the regular season that they were a deeper, more experienced and more talented team than the one eliminated by the Philadelphia Phillies in five games during the 2008 National League Championship Series, but the ending was the same in the 2009 NLCS.
With a sellout crowd at Citizens Bank Park urging them on from the first two-strike count, the Phillies once again sent the Dodgers home for the winter in Game 5 with a convincing 10-4 victory — that’s 10-4, as in over and out — to win their second consecutive NL pennant and advance to the World Series to meet the Angels-Yankees survivor.
Four home runs, including a pair by former Dodger Jayson Werth, powered the Phillies to their 11th victory in 12 postseason home games over the past two seasons and prevented the best-of-7 series from returning to Dodger Stadium this weekend.
Power-hitting first baseman Ryan Howard was held without a hit or an RBI for the first time in the series but was still voted NLCS MVP after batting .333 with two homers and eight RBI.
“They were better than us — that’s what happened,” said Dodgers outfielder Manny Ramirez, sitting in front of his locker in the quiet visitors’ clubhouse while a celebration raged in the home clubhouse and on the CBP infield. “They were better than us, so I’m just going to wish them good luck in the World Series.”
Dodgers manager Joe Torre amplified those sentiments.
“They kept coming at us offensively,” Torre said. “Look at what happened tonight. Jayson Werth didn’t get many hits (1 for 14 in the first four games) and all of a sudden he explodes. ... They did pretty much everything better than we did.”
With Werth (3 for 4, 3 runs, 4 RBI) leading the way, the Phillies attacked Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla at the start.
Padilla, who had been undefeated since signing with the Dodgers on Aug. 19, picked the worst time to have his worst start.
After allowing one run and compiling an 0.63 ERA in his first two postseason starts, Padilla was hammered for six runs in three-plus innings, the biggest blows a three-run homer by Werth in the first inning and a solo homer by Pedro Feliz in the second. Padilla was yanked in the fourth after allowing a leadoff single to Werth and an RBI double to Raul Ibanez, making it his shortest outing in 11 appearances as a Dodger. It also was the most runs he had given up since Aug. 5, his last start before being released by Texas, when he was pounded for six runs against Oakland.
The normally reliable Dodgers bullpen didn’t slow down the Phillies. Ramon Troncoso walked one batter and hit another to load the bases, and George Sherrill plunked Shane Victorino on the arm with a pitch to force in another run to make it 6-2.
There were only two tense moments after that. After pinch hitter Orlando Hudson homered with one out in the fifth to make it 6-3, the Dodgers chased Phillies starter Cole Hamels — he also gave up solo homers to Andre Ethier and James Loney — as the Dodgers got the tying run to the plate.
But Phillies manager Charlie Manuel summoned right-hander Chad Durbin, who retired Ramirez on a check-swing tapper to the mound to end the inning and the threat.
In the eighth, the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs, but reliever Ryan Madson limited the damage to one run by striking out Russell Martin with the bases loaded and retiring Casey Blake on an inning-ending force.
“I think our lineup is outstanding,” Manuel said. “We’ve got speed, but when our power shows up, we can win games by hitting the ball out of the ballpark.”
The Phillies out-homered the Dodgers 10-6 in the series. The Dodgers’ team batting average was .232, one point higher than the Phillies. But the Phillies’ team ERA was 3.07, compared with the Dodgers’ 7.38. That, ultimately, was the biggest difference.
And the Dodgers’ 5-4 loss in Game 4, when the Phillies won on Jimmy Rollins’ two-out two-run double off closer Jonathan Broxton, was the crusher.
“I’m sure, on some level, that hurt our confidence,” Blake said. “We battled after that, but it wasn’t enough.”