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Dodgers' George Sherrill struggles in key spot

The left-handed reliever, expected to tame Phillies' left-handed batters in NLCS, walks Ryan Howard and gives up a three-run homer to Raul Ibanez in eighth inning of Dodgers' 8-6 Game 1 loss.

October 16, 2009|Ben Bolch

George Sherrill knew something was amiss when his fastballs kept missing high and inside to Ryan Howard, the first batter he faced in the eighth inning.

The Dodgers' reliever walked Howard and couldn't straighten out his delivery to Jayson Werth. He walked Werth too.

Sherrill then threw a first-pitch breaking ball to Raul Ibanez that the left-handed slugger belted for a three-run home run that accounted for the Philadelphia Phillies' final runs during an 8-6 victory in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

Sherrill described the fateful pitch as a "cement mixer." It capped a stunning meltdown for a reliever who had given up only two runs in 30 innings since being acquired in late July from Baltimore.

The left-hander was expected to help the Dodgers stifle the Phillies' big left-handed bats, but he was unable to retire lefties Howard and Ibanez in his only inning Thursday.

"My timing was a little off and I just didn't make an adjustment," Sherrill said. "It's just a matter of getting it fixed and going out there and making pitches."

The implosion was made all the more painful when the Dodgers rallied for a pair of eighth-inning runs to pull within 8-6.

"I hadn't seen it in a while, so obviously I was surprised," Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said of Sherrill's struggles.

Weaver doesn't make cut

Jeff Weaver was left off the Dodgers' roster for the NLCS in a move that Manager Joe Torre said would bolster his bullpen against a Phillies lineup filled with left-handed sluggers.

The addition of Scott Elbert gives the Dodgers three left-handed relievers to face Chase Utley, Howard and Werth.

"We just felt that we wanted the option of having another left-hander for somewhere in the game if that situation arises where we aren't going to use" left-handers Hong-Chih Kuo and Sherrill.

Elbert went 2-0 with a 5.03 earned-run average this season in 19 games with the Dodgers. The rookie limited left-handed hitters to a .222 average and struck out 14 of the 39 batters he faced.

As expected, Jon Garland was left off the roster to make room for Hiroki Kuroda, who will start Game 3 in Philadelphia after missing the division series because of a bulging disk in his neck.

Legal matters

A pretrial settlement conference for reliever Ronald Belisario, facing a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, was continued to Nov. 19 at the Pasadena courthouse.

Belisario's attorney, J. Michael Flanagan, said his client should be absolved of the charge because he was improperly stopped in June by the California Highway Patrol. Flanagan said Belisario had picked up his cellphone to read a text message while his car was stopped at a red light.

"Using a cellphone is only illegal while driving," Flanagan said. "In California, driving is defined as movement." Asked whether his client was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the stop, Flanagan said, "You don't get to the alcohol aspect until you get past the propriety of the stop."


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