08/13/10 1:19 AM ET
Phils' frantic finish deals Dodgers deja blues
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
They know that Carlos Ruiz crushed a double to left-center field in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday to complete an improbable 10-9 comeback victory over the Dodgers that moved them within two games of the Braves in the National League East and a game behind the Giants in the NL Wild Card race.
"That was a blast," Mike Sweeney said.
Inconceivable. Unbelievable. Crazy.
It was all of those things.
The Phillies trailed in the eighth inning, 9-2, but scored four runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to win it.
It ended with Broxton on the mound.
The Phillies must be in his head, right?
"I have no idea," Ben Francisco said. "I don't know him. I've never talked to him."
"I think he probably knows that we beat him and things like that," manager Charlie Manuel said. "It can bother him, maybe. I don't know."
Before Broxton blew a three-run lead in dramatic fashion on Thursday, he had thrown the final pitch in some of the Phillies' most memorable postseason moments over the past two seasons. Matt Stairs hit a mammoth go-ahead home run off Broxton in the eighth inning in Game 4 of the 2008 NL Championship Series at Dodger Stadium. Last year, Jimmy Rollins hit a thrilling game-winning double to right-center field off Broxton in the ninth inning in Game 4 of the NLCS at Citizens Bank Park.
"No," said Broxton when asked if his past struggles might have been on his mind. "Whatever happened last year, happened last year. I wasn't thinking about that at all."
But Broxton is 2-2 with a 9.82 ERA and one save in four opportunities against the Phillies, dating from the moment Stairs' homer landed deep in the right-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium nearly two years ago to the moment teammates mobbed Ruiz near second base on Thursday.
Broxton's third pitch of the ninth inning hit Placido Polanco, sending him on first base. Broxton then walked Sweeney and Jayson Werth to load the bases with nobody out.
Some might remember that Broxton had similar control problems in that 2009 Game 4, when he walked Stairs and hit Ruiz with a pitch to put runners on first and second before Rollins hit a two-out double into the gap to win it.
But on Thursday, before Broxton left the field in a daze, the Phillies got a gift.
Francisco hit what appeared to be a double-play ball to Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake, but Blake let the ball scoot between his legs and into left field, scoring Polanco and Sweeney to cut the Dodgers lead to one run.
"One of those, you don't call it do-or-die but an in-between, and if you don't come up with it, it kind of makes you look like an idiot, and tonight I looked like an idiot," Blake said. "I've got to make that play, bottom line."
Ruiz, who stepped to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs, crushed a 1-1 slider to left-center.
"I always like that moment," said Ruiz, who hit a walk-off home run on May 4 against the Cardinals. "I was going to the plate relaxed. I was thinking [Manuel) showed his confidence to get a big hit right here, because right there you have a bunt situation. So I said, 'You have to do something.' I definitely was looking for a good pitch to hit, and he threw me a slider right down the middle, and I made good contact."
As soon as the ball fell, Werth and Francisco raced around the bases.
It was hard to believe that the Phillies were trailing, 9-2, just a few minutes earlier.
The rally was needed after right-hander Joe Blanton continued his trend of putting the Phillies in an early hole. Blanton allowed four singles and two walks (one intentional) in the first inning to hand the Dodgers a three-run lead, even though the Dodgers did not hit the ball particularly hard.
Blanton now has an 8.53 ERA in the first inning this season.
Blanton settled down, but Chad Durbin, J.C. Romero and Jose Contreras helped the Dodgers take a seven-run lead before the Phillies scored their eight late runs.
"Nine-to-two is a hurdle," Manuel said. "That's when you bring out your four-leaf clovers, your rabbit's feet, your horseshoes."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.