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Dodgers' Andre Ethier takes one for the team

Ethier's bases-loaded walk on 3-2 pitch in the eighth inning drives in the decisive run in a 2-1 victory that ties NLCS, 1-1, and gives Dodgers new life as series heads to Philadelphia.


In what could turn out to be the most pivotal moment of his magical season, Andre Ethier said he didn't hear the roar of 56,000 fans at Dodger Stadium. Instead, he said, he heard the calming voice of his hitting coach.

"Don't be too aggressive," Don Mattingly's voice told him. "Don't get yourself out."

Score tied, bases loaded and down to the Dodgers' final strike in the eighth inning, Ethier let one pitch by J.A. Happ sail by him.

Then another.

And another.

Ball four.

No late-game home run. No swarm of teammates to greet him at home plate. No matter.

Ethier's walk, on a 3-2 pitch, pushed in Russell Martin for the deciding run in the Dodgers' come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies that tied the best-of-seven National League Championship Series at 1-1.

For seven innings, the Dodgers were held scoreless by Pedro Martinez, who was nine days away from his 38th birthday. They were kept in the game by a once-again dominant Vicente Padilla, whose lone mistake over 7 1/3 innings was a solo homer he served up to Ryan Howard in the fourth.

But when Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel opted to hit for Martinez in the top of the eighth, everything changed.

The Phillies' next pitcher was another former Dodger, Chan Ho Park, who gave up a leadoff single to Casey Blake.

"As soon as Casey Blake got the basehit, I said, 'It's on,' " Rafael Furcal said.

Juan Pierre pinch-ran for Blake and moved to second when Ronnie Belliard, trying to sacrifice, placed his bunt perfectly between Park and first baseman Howard for a hit.

What happened next was one of those "that's baseball" moments.

Martin tried to sacrifice -- but failed. With the bunt taken off because the count was full, Martin hit what looked like a sure double-play grounder to third base.

"As soon as I hit it, I was like, 'Dang it, here we go,' " Martin said.

Third baseman Pedro Feliz threw the ball to second baseman Chase Utley, who threw it to . . . well, way wide of Howard and into the screen in front of the Phillies' dugout.

Pierre scored.

Instead of the Dodgers being down by a run with two outs and a man on third, they were tied and had a man on first with one out.

"As soon as I saw Howard come off the bag, that's when I realized that something was going to happen," Martin said.

Pinch-hitter Jim Thome singled to right, Martin going from first to third.

Furcal drew a walk.

Matt Kemp struck out, leaving the fate of the game in Ethier's hands.

Make no mistake, the player who led the majors with six walk-off hits during the regular season wanted to take a hack at the ball.

"I was tempted to swing the whole time," Ethier said.

But . . .

"Donnie's voice was in my head," he said.

While waiting for the Phillies to make a pitching change -- Happ replaced Ryan Madson, who'd replaced Scott Eyre, who'd replaced Park -- Ethier also took some last-minute pointers from Thome.

Thome, who'd been replaced by pinch-runner Juan Castro and was back on the Dodgers' bench, had faced Happ the previous night and told Ethier that the left-hander wouldn't put himself in a position to get beaten with his off-speed pitches.

Six of the seven pitches the left-handed-hitting Ethier saw were fastballs, the last one just low for ball four.

Jonathan Broxton closed with a perfect ninth inning, as Ethier battled the afternoon sunlight to catch a line drive by Utley for the final out.

Utley's throwing error was his second in as many games.

"It was just a bad throw," Utley said. "I just wasn't able to turn it."

Torre said that Martin owned up to his own mistake.

"When I shook his hand after the game, that was one thing he said," Torre said. "He apologized for the bunt -- or lack of it."

Manuel said taking Martinez out of the game was the right thing to do.

"He was gone," Manuel said. "I mean, I think he was spent."

Martinez, who gave up only two hits and didn't walk a batter, felt he could have continued, but said Manuel had warned him beforehand that he would be limited to 80-90 pitches. Martinez, who hadn't pitched since Sept. 30, made 87.

The Dodgers traveled Friday night to Philadelphia, where they are scheduled to work out today and resume the series Sunday. Games 3, 4 and 5 will be in Philadelphia, where the Dodgers dropped the first two games of the NLCS last year.

"I wish we could have gone 2-0, but 1-1 is better than 0-2," Kemp said.

The Dodgers won two of three games in Citizens Bank Park in May, but players said that was so long ago that it's probably unimportant.

Most of the talk about Philadelphia concerned the future, not the past.

"We only need three more games to do something special," Manny Ramirez said.




Walk this way

In the key at-bat Friday, Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ faced Andre Ethier with the bases loaded, two outs and the score 1-1 in the eighth inning. The sequence that led to the Dodgers' winning run:

*--* Pitch Result 93-mph 4-seam fastball Ball 93-mph 4-seam fastball Foul 93-mph 4-seam fastball Foul 95-mph 4-seam fastball Foul 83-mph changeup Ball 96-mph 4-seam fastball Ball 95-mph 4-seam fastball Ball >>> Ethier walks to force home Russell Martin from third base. *--*

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