Never a doubt, right?
The Phillies came back in memorable fashion last night in a 7-5 victory over the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. Shane Victorino hit a game-tying two-run home run to right field in the eighth inning. Matt Stairs stepped up three batters later and hit a mammoth pinch-hit, two-run homer to right field to win it. Brad Lidge picked up his first four-out save of the season. They helped turn what would have been an ugly loss into a memorable win.
One more to go.
One more victory and the Phillies are in the World Series.
The Phillies are the 12th team to take a 3-1 lead in the NLCS since MLB introduced the best-of-seven format in 1985. Nine of the previous 11 advanced to the World Series. The '96 Cardinals blew a 3-1 lead against the Braves and the '03 Cubs blew a 3-1 lead agains the Marlins.
I've seen the replay of Stairs' homer, and it can't do justice to how high and far he hit that ball. I mean, he just crushed it. Stairs became just the third Phillie to hit a pinch-hit homer in the postseason. Bake McBride and Jerry Martin also hit pinch-hit homers. McBride hit his Oct. 7, 1978, against the Dodgers in the NLCS. Martin hit his Oct. 4, 1978, against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
Jim Salisbury takes us Inside the Game, he looks at Stairs' at-bat a little more closely.
Phil Sheridan writes about Public Enemy No. 1: Victorino. His 11 RBIs this postseason are the most in franchise history. Lenny Dykstra had 10 RBIs in the 1993 postseason.
John Gonzalez writes about Cole Hamels' confidence before Game 4. Gonzalez, Ford and Sheridan also talk about Tommy Lasorda and bean ball wars. And check out a look at the scene last night at Dodger Stadium, including organist Nancy Bea Hefly.
Bet you're glad the Phillies didn't bring back Hamels on short rest now. I tended to agree with Manuel on this one: Hamels hasn't pitched on short rest in his career, so you don't know how he would respond. And do you really want to test him for the first time in the postseason? And Game 4 wasn't going to be a do-or-die situation, so it wasn't absolutely necessary. Plus, Joe Blanton had thrown the ball well in Game 4 in Milwaukee. Hamels kind of tap dances around the question, but yesterday he finally indicated if given the opportunity he would pitch on short rest. It's just that pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear it's their call and they don't want him doing it.