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Over and out for Dodgers

Vicente Padilla can't do it again, and the Phillies eliminate L.A. in five games for the second year in a row.

October 22, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

PHILADELPHIA — The coach turned back into a pumpkin. The emperor realized he wasn't wearing any clothes.

Vicente Padilla ran out of magic.

Like that, the Dodgers' season was over, with Manager Joe Torre and his group of miracle workers falling three victories short of the World Series for the second time in as many years.

Again, the Dodgers were turned away by the Philadelphia Phillies in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series in five games, this time dropping the deciding contest by a 10-4 margin at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.

"It's more disappointing this year than last year in that we felt we were more prepared this year," Andre Ethier said.

Torre said he told his players in a postgame meeting about how proud he was of them. Players exchanged handshakes in the clubhouse. A red-faced and teary Jonathan Broxton, who blew a save in Game 4 that tilted the series in the Phillies' favor, embraced bullpen catcher Mike Borzello in the middle of the clubhouse.

"Two years in a row, getting beat by the same team," Matt Kemp said, shaking his head. "We're all heartbroken right now. Not to make it all the way, we're definitely teasing ourselves."

The three runs the Dodgers scored on solo home runs by Ethier, James Loney and Orlando Hudson were rendered meaningless by the seven runs the defending World Series champions scored on four long balls, including two by former Dodger Jayson Werth.

Never in this series did the Dodgers look like the team that withstood Manny Ramirez's a 50-game suspension, compiled a league-best 95-67 record and swept the St. Louis Cardinals in three games in the NL Division Series.

"We weren't clicking on all cylinders," Casey Blake said. "It would have been interesting if we were."

Blake was two for 19 in the series and left the bases loaded with an eighth-inning groundout that marked the Dodgers' last chance at forcing the series to return to Los Angeles for Game 6.

Rafael Furcal was almost as ineffective, as he was three for 21. Kemp struck out twice to increase his series total to eight and postseason total to 16.

And Ramirez never regained that something that captivated Los Angeles last fall. He had a chance to do so with two out, two men on in the fifth inning and the Dodgers trailing, 6-3, But he was jammed and hit a dribbler back to reliever Chad Durbin, who threw him out to end the inning.

"We were playing against a team that was better than us," Ramirez said.

Whatever aspirations the Dodgers had of recovering from Broxton's blown save in the previous game were dashed by Padilla, their $100,000 midsummer pickup who turned into their October ace.

The Dodgers were haunted in this series by budget-conscious owner Frank McCourt's inability -- or refusal -- to pay for front-line pitching that could stand up to the Phillies' lineup, which led the NL in runs scored.

Asked what the Phillies had that the Dodgers didn't, Ethier said, "They have a clear No. 1 guy."

In particular, Ethier was talking about Cliff Lee, who pitched eight shutout innings in Game 3.

Ethier handed Padilla a 1-0 lead with a first-inning home run off Cole Hamels, but Padilla reverted to the form that earned him his release by the Texas Rangers in August and expedited the Dodgers' exit from World Series contention.

Padilla, who held the Phillies to a run over 7 1/3 innings in Game 2, retired the first two batters he faced. Then he suddenly lost his ability to throw a strike.

He walked Chase Utley on five pitches and Ryan Howard on four to bring up Werth, who hit an opposite-field shot into the right-field stands that put the Dodgers at a 3-1 deficit.

Charged with six runs and four hits in three innings, Padilla sent the Dodgers down a rabbit hole where they played out a series of nightmarish scenes.

With the game spiraling out of control, Ramon Troncoso relieved Padilla in the fourth and gave up a walk before hitting Jimmy Rollins. Then George Sherrill plunked Shane Victorino with the bases loaded to force in a run that increased the margin to 6-2.

Clayton Kershaw served up a towering two-run home run to Victorino in the sixth inning and immediately dropped into a crouch, his back turned to his home plate.

Hong-Chih Kuo was victimized in the seventh inning by Werth, who drove one of his pitches over the wall in left-center.

That Hamels lasted only 4 1/3 innings was inconsequential.

"This leaves a real pit in your stomach," Torre said. "I can't say that the Phillies wanted it more than us, but they were better than us this week. We're getting there. We're getting there."

Torre said his team showed that by cutting their deficit to three runs at one point and moving to within a swing by Ramirez of tying the score. But he said his players had already demonstrated that to him earlier this season by welcoming their midseason acquisitions with open arms.

"To me, that is a real plateau to get over -- when you understand that sometimes it takes that to win," Torre said. "Winning has become a priority. I'm very proud of them."


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