Phils take opener, 8-6

LOS ANGELES - The Phillies' bats picked up where they left off in Colorado. Using three-run home runs by Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez, sprinkled in with a two-run double by Ryan Howard, the Phillies opened the National League Championship Series with an 8-6 victory over the Los Anglees Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

Game 2 is Friday at 4:07 p.m. with Pedro Martinez pitching against Dodgers righthander Vicente Padilla.

In addition, Brad Lidge earned his third straight postseason save by pitching a scoreless ninth inning.

The Phillies batted .296 in their NLDS series win over Colorado. That was the highest team batting average in franchise history for a playoff round.

Last night's starter Cole Hamels has owned the Dodgers. He entered the NLCS with a 4-0 career mark (including the postseason) against Los Angeles with a 1.64 ERA. Last season when he was MVP of the NLCS, Hamels went 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA against the Dodgers. This year in two games he went 1-0 with a 0.56 ERA.

Last night wouldn't be one of Hamels' signature performances, but he still ended up the winning pitcher.

The Dodgers countered with 21-year-old lefthander Clayton Kershaw, considered one of the rising young pitchers. He went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA, striking out 185 in 171 innings.

Kershaw doesn't always find the strike zone, evidenced by the fact that he was third in the National League with 93 walks. His shaky command would eventually cost him in this game.

The Dodgers scored first on James Loney's solo home run to lead to right field to lead off the second innings. Loney hit a 93 mile per hour 2-1 fastball.

The fact that Loney got off to a quick start against the Phillies should come as no surprise. He batted .438 (7 for 16) with two doubles and two RBIs in last year's NLCS against the Phillies.

Then during this past regular season Loney batted .393 (11 for 28) with two home runs and six RBIs against the Phils.

After that home run to Loney, Hamels briefly settled down, retiring retired nine of the next 10 batters.

The Phillies knocked Kershaw out during a five-run fifth inning. Raul Ibanez led off with a single to leftfield. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and Pedro Feliz walked putting runners on first and second with nobody out.

Carlos Ruiz then delivered a three-run home run to left field, continuing a pattern of torching the Dodgers.

During the regular season Ruiz was 8 for 14 (.571) with one home run and five RBIs against the Dodgers.

In last year's NLCS against Los Angeles, he went 5 for 16 (.313) with an RBI.

The Phillies weren't finished.

After Ruiz's home run, Kershaw walked Hamels, who was forced at second on Jimmy Rollins' fielder's choice. Shane Victorino struck out for the second out but Rollins advanced to second on a wild pitch.

With Chase Utley at the plate, Rollins went to third on yet another wild pitch, one that would make history, although not the kind that Kershaw was looking to be part of.

It was the third wild pitch of the fifth inning. That set an NLCS record for most wild pitches in an inning and tied the mark for most wild pitches in a game.

Utley would eventually walk, putting runners on the corners and then Ryan Howard crushed a two-run double to right field.

That ended Kershaw's evening. In 42/3 innings he allowed five runs (all earned) on five hits. Kershaw also walked five and struck out three. Kershaw threw 89 pitches, 48 for strikes, which explains why he didn't last five innings.

The Dodgers got back in the game by scoring three runs in the fifth. Russell Martin hit a leadoff double and after a strikeout, Rafael Furcal singled, putting runners at the corners.

The Dodgers then scored their second run when Andre Eithier hit a field's choice grounder to shortstop. Rollins flipped the ball to Utley for the force at second, but Utley then threw wildly to first, allowing Eithier to move up to second with two outs. It must be noted that Eithier would have been safe at first even with a good throw.

Manny Ramirez then hammered a two-run home run to leftfield and the Dodgers were back in the game, trailing 5-4.

The Phillies saw first-hand last year how dangerous Ramirez could be in a a best of seven series. He was one of the few bright spots for the Dodgers in last year's NLCS, hitting .533 (8 for 15) with two home runs and seven RBIs. Ramirez has now hit safely in 11 of the 12 postseason games as a Dodger.

Hamels finally got out of the inning by getting Matt Kemp to ground out to Utley.

He wouldn't last the sixth inning.

After issuing one-out singles to Loney and Ronnie Belliard that put runners on first and second, Hamels was replaced by righthander Chad Durbin.

Hamels labored through 106 pitches.

Durbin got Martin to fly out to Jayson Werth in right field. After former Phillie Jim Thome was announced as a pinch hitter, manager Charlie Manuel brought in lefthander J.A. Happ.

Thome drew a walk to load the bases and was replaced by pinch runner Randy Wolf, yet another former Phillie.

Happ then ended the inning by getting Furcal to ground out to second base. Hamels allowed four earned runs and eight hits in 51/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Still leading 5-4, the Phillies brought lefthander Antonio Bastardo to pitch in the seventh inning. Bastardo was one after surrendering a leadoff double to rightfield to Eithier.

Chan Ho Park, who had been sidelined with a hamstring injury, then made his first appearance since Sept. 16.

Throwing plenty of heat, Park struck out Ramirez and Matt Kemp and got Casey Blake to ground out to Utley at second.

George Sherrill came in to pitch in the eighth for the Dodgers and promptly walked the first two hitters, Howard and Werth before Raul Ibanez hit a three-run home run to rightfield, extending the lead to 8-4.

What made the home run more impressive is that Sherrill owned lefthanders during the season. Both with Baltimore and with the Dodgers, lefthanders hit 10 for 78 (.128) against Sherrill during the regular season.

The Dodgers greeted Ryan Madson with three consecutive singles in the eighth. The third of those singles by Martin drove in the fifth run.

Pinch hitter Juan Pierre then hit into a fielder's choice, putting runners on the corners with one out.

Furcal then hit a sacrifice fly for the sixth run. Eithier singled, bringing Ramirez up with runners at first and third and two outs.

Madson got out of the jam by getting Ramirez to ground out to third baseman Pedro Feliz.