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Ryan Howard is enjoying the fun times

The Phillies' first baseman is selected MVP of the series after batting .333 with two home runs and eight runs batted in.

October 22, 2009|Ben Bolch

PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Howard took measures to protect his eyes, donning a pair of goggles in the Philadelphia clubhouse.

He never imagined he would have to worry about his underwear.

But there was Pedro Martinez, pouring beer on a pair of the slugger's shorts that dangled from a coat hanger Wednesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

"I don't think I've ever played on a team that's been so fun," Howard said after the Phillies eliminated the Dodgers from the National League Championship Series with a 10-4 victory in Game 5. "It's one of the funnest teams I've played on."

It also one of the most potent, with the Phillies averaging seven runs in the series and hitting 10 home runs. Howard was selected most valuable player after batting .333 with two homers and eight runs batted in in the series, though he did not contribute to his team's four-homer barrage Wednesday.

Jayson Werth hit two homers and Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino hit one apiece. It looked as if Victorino might have hit a second homer with a drive to right field in the eighth inning, but umpires ruled that a fan interfered with the ball and Victorino was awarded a double.

"It's been a total team effort the entire time," Howard said, "different guys stepping up in different situations."

Not the same guy

Cole Hamels went from MVP of the 2008 NLCS to little more than a series footnote a year later.

The left-hander who twice stifled the Dodgers last season turned in a pair of mediocre starts in this series, including a 4 1/3 -inning outing Wednesday in which he gave up five hits and three runs. Hamels gave up three solo home runs to keep the Dodgers within striking distance in the early going.

Asked to assess his performance, Hamels said, "Terrible. To not be able to go out and do my job, it's frustrating. . . . But our whole team stepped up and got it done."

All that mattered to Hamels was that he would get another opportunity to pitch next week.

"To be going to my second World Series," the 25-year-old said, "that's pretty special."

Meltdown over

The closer who had trouble getting an out for stretches of September hasn't given up a run in the postseason.

Brad Lidge has three saves and a victory in five scoreless appearances after retiring the Dodgers in order in the ninth inning of Game 5.

He was not eligible for a save because the Phillies had a six-run lead.

"I had no concerns in the world," Lidge said of pitching with such a big advantage.

Lidge said he fixed his late-season struggles by throwing off his back leg during the week before the playoffs.

"I never stopped believing in myself," he said.


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