Ethier has fun being the hero

Posted: October 17, 2009

LOS ANGELES — The score was tied, the bases were full and so was the count, and the crowd in Dodger Stadium was on its feet.

"Just take it all in, have fun with it," Dodgers rightfielder Andre Ethier said. "Sometimes, you try to block it out too much. You just have to take it in, and want to be the guy in that situation."

J.A. Happ's next pitch was low for ball four.

So it was that Ethier, the Dodgers' walk-off homer artist, made his biggest contribution of the season simply by walking, driving in the go-ahead run in the Dodgers' wild 2-1 comeback over the Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers said their eighth-inning rally was the result of playing hard, which sounds so simple but must be so hard to do after being stymied by Pedro Martinez for seven innings.

Consider the play when Russell Martin came up with runners on first and second and none out.

Martin, who unsuccessfully tried to sacrifice and then nearly walked against Chan Ho Park, put the ball in play and practically kicked himself.

"I hit the ball and as soon as I hit it I was like, dang it, there we go, a double play," Martin said. "I got lucky."

That's because second baseman Chase Utley's throw to first as he tried to turn the double play with the Dodgers' Ronnie Belliard heading for second sailed wide, allowing pinch-runner Juan Pierre to score the tying run from second base.

"Ronnie's out there running to second, I don't know if he was trying to break it up, maybe [Utley] just rushed it a little bit, maybe because Ronnie was running so hard toward second," Martin said. "I think the key is to play the game as I hard as you can."

Not so Handy Manny

Manny Ramirez went 0 for 3 against Martinez in Game 2, fouling out to first in the second, popping to first in the third and striking out on a change-up in the seventh. He entered the game with a .167 career average against Martinez (5 for 30) with no home runs and 13 strikeouts. Make that .152 with 14 strikeouts.

He also popped out against reliever Chad Durbin to end the eighth.

Nemesis returns

The Dodgers turn next to the only pitcher who won a game for them in last season's NLCS: Hiroki Kuroda.

Kuroda, who won Game 3 last season by holding the Phillies to two runs over six innings, faces Cliff Lee tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park.

Kuroda is coming off a neck injury that cost him his last regular-season start and kept him out of the division series against St. Louis. He was on the disabled list twice this season - once with a concussion he suffered after he was hit in the head by a batted ball in a scary play on the road at Arizona.

"I don't think any of us knew how long it would take for him to get back into that competitive mode," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "But it was a lot quicker than I ever would have anticipated, and that takes a lot of courage, just a lot of mental toughness to be able to do that."


Former Phillie Jim Thome, who had a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning:

"We'll take it. By no means are we in the driver's seat. You go to Philadelphia, I've played there, it can be a rough environment. Their fans get into it. It will be fun."

Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who got the save by easily retiring Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Utley in the ninth:

"You'd hate to go to Philly 2-0, that's a tough place to play. We just have to go out and try to do everything we can."

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