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News » Dodgers stand up to Phillies in Game 3 win


Dodgers stand up to Phillies in Game 3 win


Dodgers stand up to Phillies in Game 3 win
LOS ANGELES - It's easy to forget that the Dodgers are still so young, still going through growing pains, still learning Baseball 101.

On Sunday night, they took a major step forward, and not simply by trouncing the Phillies, 7-2, in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.

2008 MLB playoffs


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The Dodgers had rolled over in Game 2 after Phillies right-hander Brett Myers brushed back Russell Martin and threw behind Manny Ramirez.

On Sunday night, the Dodgers collectively said, "Enough."

The Rays matured as a club by refusing to be intimidated this season in a series of incidents with their two biggest rivals, the Yankees and Red Sox.

Against the Phillies, a team of rough-and-tumble veterans, the Dodgers needed to grow up or go home.

"They're really aggressive. They pitch really aggressive," Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said of the Phillies. "But we can play the same game as them."

On Sunday night, they did.

You saw it: Martin getting hit by Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer in the first inning, then knocked down by reliever Clay Condrey in the second.

Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda throwing over Shane Victorino's head in the third, then the benches emptying after Victorino hit into an inning-ending groundout, lots of pushing, shoving and shouting, but no punches thrown.

Such a moment was coming, and its genesis goes back further than Game 2, when Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley failed to retaliate on behalf of Ramirez, the Dodgers' leading slugger. Billingsley also did nothing after Giants right-hander Matt Cain hit Ramirez in the head on Aug. 10.

Ramirez was livid with Billingsley over what happened in Philadelphia, "as mad as I've seen him," one Dodger said. Other Dodgers also were angry at the pitcher, who is 24 and just completing his second full season. Martin, the catcher, also bore responsibility. He already is an All-Star but still just 25.

The Dodgers privately have expressed frustration with Martin at various points this season, wanting him to be more diligent on the defensive end, more of a young Jason Varitek. Perhaps, after what happened Sunday night, he will begin to see things differently.

"We definitely needed to do something," Martin said. "As a pitching staff, the opposing team has to be aware of the ball 'in.' It kind of changes the game, changes the approach a little bit."

Understand, this isn't about injuring opponents or engaging in some silly, macho one-upsmanship. This is about throwing inside to keep hitters from diving across the plate to reach balls outside. Baseball 101.

After Myers backed Martin off the plate in Game 2, he struck him out on a breaking ball away. That's what Ramirez wanted from his own pitcher. That's the way the sport is intended to be played.

Ramirez explained the source of his frustration in Game 2, saying, "We didn't send a message." Kuroda, a Japanese pitcher in his first major-league season, corrected the problem on Sunday night. No translation necessary.

Victorino objected that the pitch was in the direction of his head and not his ribs, though FOX broadcaster Tim McCarver, a former major-league catcher, pointed out that a pitch over a hitter's head actually is less dangerous than one behind it.

In any case, a series that threatened to turn into a yawner suddenly could become a barnburner. The Phillies aren't going to stop pitching inside, and neither should the Dodgers. If hitters protest, so be it.

Right-hander Derek Lowe will start Game 4 for the Dodgers on three days rest, facing Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton. Lowe needs to atone for blowing a 2-0 lead in Game 1 by allowing two homers in the sixth inning. Dodger Stadium will be absolutely electric, as it was Sunday night.

The crowd could tell: The Dodgers are growing up.

"For sure," Kemp said. "It showed today."


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: October 13, 2008

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