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October 21, 2009

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Phillies close in on World Series spot

JIMMY Rollins hit a two-run, two-out double in the ninth inning to give the Philadelphia Phillies a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series on Monday.

His teammate Ryan Howard also hit a two-run, first inning homer to tied Lou Gehrig's 78-year record for the most consecutive RBI's in postseason games.

The defending champions can seal the best-of-seven series and return to the World Series with one more victory.

"This is big. The pressure is all on them," Rollins told reporters. "We wanted this. We needed this to put the pressure on them at our place. We didn't want to go back to LA and give them back the home field advantage if we can avoid it."

The Dodgers, who were routed by the Phillies 11-0 on Sunday, appeared ready to even the series before Rollins' drive to right center field scored Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz.

"It's a very tough lineup to go through. You try to be careful," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.

"Our mind-set is playing one game at a time. In the postseason, you think you can win three games in a row."

The Dodgers bullpen held the Phillies hitless for more than two innings on Monday before finally running into trouble.

Jonathan Broxton, the fourth Los Angeles reliever, walked Matt Stairs, who was replaced by pinch-runner Bruntlett. Broxton then hit Carlos Ruiz to give Philadelphia runners on first and second with one out.

Greg Dobbs lined out to third to bring the Dodgers within one out of victory but on the hard-throwing Broxton's third pitch to Rollins, Philadelphia's fifth batter of the inning hit a fastball into the gap in right center.

"I've faced him a number of times and I have always found a way to put the bell on the ball but it is usually a fly ball (out)," Rollins said.

"I was saying all you have to do is catch the ball in the air. I don't need a home run."

The Dodgers, who were routed by the Phillies 11-0 on Sunday, appeared ready to even the series before the dramatic turn of events.

Matt Kemp's fifth inning solo home run had put Los Angeles in front 3-2 after the Dodgers had scored twice in the fourth to rally from a 0-2 deficit.

An RBI single by Casey Blake in the sixth boosted the lead to 4-2 before Chase Utley's run-scoring single brought the Phillies within one in the bottom half of the inning.

Howard's two-run, first inning homer had given Philadelphia its 2-0 lead, before the Dodgers used fourth inning singles by James Loney and Russell Martin to level the score.

With the homer, Howard tied Gehrig as the only players to record an RBI in eight consecutive postseason games.


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