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October 20, 2009

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Phillies wallop Dodgers 11-0 to lead series

PHILADELPHIA thumped the Los Angeles Dodgers 11-0 on Sunday to snatch a 2-1 lead in the National League Championship Series.

Philadelphia starting pitcher Cliff Lee struck out 10 and allowed three hits over eight innings after the Phillies raced to a 4-0 lead in the first.

"We had a pretty nice lead so it made a little easier on me," Lee told reporters. "So things went well."

Lee, a mid-season acquisition who won the American League Cy Young Award for Cleveland in 2008, did not give up a walk and allowed the Dodgers, the NL's best hitting team, only three singles on a cold night. Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez had two of the hits.

"Obviously I wanted to go back out there (to pitch the ninth), but getting the win was the main thing," said Lee, who contributed an eighth inning single before yielding to Chad Durbin on the mound.

"He's pretty damn special," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of Lee.

The win was the most lopsided post-season victory for Philadelphia.

Ryan Howard gave the World Series champions the perfect start with a two-run triple in the first.

The hit enabled the Philadelphia first baseman to celebrate at least one RBI in seven consecutive playoff games, a Major League best for one postseason.

"It's the playoffs," Howard said. "You just try to step your game up as much as possible. You try to get on base anyway you can."

Jayson Werth followed Howard with a two-run homer to center field to give the Phillies the four-run lead.

They added two more runs in both the second and fifth innings to stretch their advantage to 8-0 before Shane Victorino completed the rout with a three-run homer in the eighth.

Dodgers manager Joe Torre's gamble on Hiroki Kuroda badly backfired.

Two singles, a double, a triple, a home run. Philadelphia battered the Japanese-born pitcher, sending him to the dugout after only recording four outs.

Another chance

Kuroda might not get another chance to prove he can shut down the Phillies.

"I think I made it hard on myself because I couldn't throw the first-pitch strikes," Kuroda said. "It just became harder and harder later on in the count. That's it."

Kuroda never had anything from the start in front of a rabid Phillies crowd. He was rested - and rusty - in his first start since September 28 because of a bulging disk in his neck.

He sat out the NL division series against St Louis.

A lengthy layoff didn't affect Phillies starter Pedro Martinez in Game 2.

Torre said he didn't know how he might use Kuroda the rest of the series. The four-time World Series champion manager refused to blame Kuroda's injury or the cooler temperatures for his struggles.

"The ball didn't behave," Torre said.

Kuroda's past success against Philadelphia was one reason Torre gave him the ball. Kuroda was 1-0 and had allowed only two earned runs in 19 innings in three career regular-season starts against Philadelphia.


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