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Big hits come from littlest guys

Home runs from Victorino and Stairs, each 5 feet 9, have the Phillies on verge of reaching the World Series.

October 14, 2008|Kevin Baxter and Jim Peltz | Times Staff Writers

On a roster that boasts the last two National League most valuable players, a two-time All-Star at second base and a left fielder who's averaged more than 30 home runs and nearly 100 runs batted in over the last four seasons, guys like Shane Victorino and Matt Stairs tend to get overlooked.

Especially since they both stand only 5 feet 9.

In the Philadelphia Phillies' clubhouse, however, they stand tall -- never more so than Monday night when each hit a two-run eighth-inning home run to erase a two-run Dodgers lead and give the Phillies a 7-5 victory in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.

"Our team rakes," closer Brad Lidge said. "We've got guys that nobody even really knows about. Guys like Victorino, that don't get credit that can hit home runs a mile at any point. Guys like Matt Stairs off the bench. We've assembled a great team. And there's no weak link in our chain as we go down through the hitters. That's the biggest thing."

Stairs had the biggest hit Monday, a two-out, two-run pinch-hit home run off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton that landed halfway up the right-field pavilion and gave Philadelphia a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"Home run. That's what I think every time I step into that batter's box," said Stairs, acquired by the Phillies from Toronto a day before the deadline to be eligible for postseason play. "I figure if I swing as hard as I can and see how far I can hit it, I'm going to have a good at-bat."

Perhaps the at-bat of the season for the Phillies since it pushed them to within a win of the World Series.

"Going up 3-1 in huge, especially the way we did it tonight," Lidge said of the Phillies, who twice rallied from deficits. "Two-two, anything can happen. Everyone's back to equal. But 3-1, that's a big-time advantage."

The final comeback started with Victorino, who was moved down to the sixth spot in the order but came up big against Corey Wade, lining the first pitch he saw into the Phillies' bullpen where it missed catcher Lou Marson's head by a couple of inches.

"He was wearing his catcher's helmet. So it would have, hopefully, been funny," said Lidge, who got the last four outs. "As it was, it gave him a good scare."

It apparently spooked the Dodgers as well because three batters later Stairs came off the bench to hammer Broxton's fifth pitch of the night deep into the bleachers.

"This is what you play for as a kid," said Victorino. "You get an opportunity and try to make the best of it."

And now he's given the Phillies an opportunity to wrap up a league championship in Game 5, which follows today's off day. "We'll take a day, we'll enjoy this," Lidge said.


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