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No Blue ribbon / Phillies win the pennant behind Hamels, as Dodgers get a poor start and worse fielding

L.A. season ends with a series of lowlights, instead of first Series appearance in 20 years

October 16, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

Twenty years to the day after Kirk Gibson hit the home run that became an enduring image in these parts, the video scoreboard at Dodger Stadium replayed the ninth-inning shot from Game 1 of the 1988 World Series in a last-ditch effort to galvanize the home team.

Could there be another miracle in the same place on the same day two decades apart?

Not a chance.

The season ended for the Dodgers on Wednesday night, as starter Chad Billingsley lasted only 2 2/3 innings and Rafael Furcal made three errors in a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, who won the National League Championship Series, four games to one.

"We sort of kept skidding," Manager Joe Torre said. "We just kept spinning our wheels. We couldn't get where we needed to go."

This game produced several moments to remember over the long winter, but none that are likely to replace Gibson's as one replayed over and over in the ballpark next year.

Billingsley, who gave up a home run to Jimmy Rollins to start the game, walked off the field to boos.

Furcal made a fielding and throwing error on the same fifth-inning play and made another errant throw later in the inning, the mistakes costing the Dodgers a pair of runs that buried them in a 5-0 deficit.

Russell Martin argued a strike three call with home plate umpire Mike Winters in the sixth inning and his protest was heated enough that he had to be restrained by coaches Larry Bowa and Mariano Duncan.

Jeff Kent, who might have played the final game of his career, also had words for Winters when he was called out on strikes in the seventh.

"The magnitude of the game," Martin said when asked what made him snap. "It was a must-win for us. I wanted to walk. I didn't want to strike out."

Martin hit .118 (two for 17) in the series.

"I didn't have my best at-bats," he admitted.

Only Manny Ramirez was able to elicit a substantial reaction from the paid crowd of 56,800 fans that didn't consist of moans.

With the bases empty in the sixth inning, Ramirez launched a ball over the right-field wall into Mannywood, perhaps for the last time. The shot closed the gap to 5-1.

The fans in left field, aware of Ramirez's impending free agency, chanted, "Manny stay!" when he took his defensive position in the top of the ninth.

Ramirez had a postseason for the ages, as he hit .520 (13 for 25) with four home runs and 10 runs batted in in eight games. He was eight for 15 in this series with two home runs and eight RBIs, but it wasn't enough to overcome a Phillies team that will face either the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox in the World Series.

Ramirez's home run accounted for the only run charged to Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who also won Game 1 and was named the series MVP. On this night, Hamels held the Dodgers to five hits over seven innings.

Billingsley couldn't match up.

Trouble came immediately for the 24-year-old right-hander, who was 16-10 with a 3.14 earned-run average in the regular season but was pounded for eight runs (seven earned) in 2 1/3 innings of a Game 2 loss.

Billingsley not only had to deal with the memory of how hard he was hit over the preceding days, he had to listen to criticism about how he failed to protect the Dodgers' hitters, who were thrown at by Brett Myers.

The latter subject was enough of a sore spot that when asked about how it affected him, Billingsley replied, "That's in the past. You try to get by it."

Whatever the reason, Billingsley had another rough day. He got Rollins into an 0-2 count, but gave up a home run over the wall in right-center six pitches later.

"I just wasn't able to put them away," Billingsley said.

Walks to Rollins and Chase Utley hurt Billingsley in the third, as both scored. When Billingsley walked Shane Victorino to load the bases, Torre determined that he'd seen enough.

Chan Ho Park was summoned out of the bullpen to record the final out, and Billingsley's season was over.

Bowa had no problem with the result.

"They were better than us," Bowa said. "They deserved to go."

Bowa said he was pleased with how far this young Dodgers team had come.

"If somebody said in spring training, 'You'll be three games from the World Series,' I would've said, 'Really?' I wouldn't have believed it."

Torre told his team something similar in their postgame meeting.

"I basically told them that I was proud to be their manager," he said. "This has been an up-and-down year. I think they learned a lot. I think they learned how to come together."


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