"There's something to be said about that," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said.
There is plenty to say about the first two games at Dodger Stadium, where the Phillies have outclassed the $238 million Dodgers. This time, they staked A.J. Burnett to an early advantage, survived a late-inning Dodgers push, and enjoyed stress-free bullpen performances from Jake Diekman, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon.
Burnett manufactured his own offense against stingy lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, who boasted a 1.93 in 2014. His three hits established a new career best.
"He told me he couldn't hit in spring training," Sandberg said. "So I said, 'Just work on your bunting.' It looked like he had Ryu figured out. He was right on everything."
"I got lucky," Burnett said.
He started the third with a single, and Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first. Burnett was safe. The 37-year-old righthander slowed by an inguinal hernia motioned for Puig to calm down. His Phillies teammates chuckled from the dugout. A Marlon Byrd double play halted the rally.
But Burnett struck again in the fifth with another leadoff single. This one ignited the lineup. Ben Revere singled to right, and Byrd lofted a run-scoring double to left. Ryan Howard followed with a sacrifice fly.
Burnett said his injury made running uncomfortable.
"I'm here to play the game," Burnett said. "If I'm going to pitch with it, I'm going to play with it. I'm going to do everything I can."
That held until Dee Gordon commandeered the seventh. He smacked a grounder past an outstretched Freddy Galvis. Burnett smacked his right hand into his glove. But Gordon never stopped as the ball trickled into short right field. His blue helmet flew; Gordon bellyflopped into second with a hustle double.
Gordon, who leads the majors in stolen bases, then swiped third. He crashed hard into Jayson Nix's knee and stayed down. The 44,826 fans at Dodger Stadium roared when he stood. They screamed when pinch-hitter Justin Turner flicked a Burnett curveball into left field. Gordon trotted home to complete a most impressive trip around the bases.
Sandberg came to fetch Burnett, who was excellent in 6 2/3 innings. Gordon, the son of former Phillies closer Tom Gordon also departed the game because of a possible head injury.
The Phillies did not respond until the 10th. The bottom of their amended batting order did not help. Sandberg turned to Galvis and Nix for two-fifths of his infield. Chase Utley, who entered the day with the fourth-best OPS in the National League, rested Tuesday. It was a curious decision by Sandberg, given Utley's success at Dodger Stadium and that he smashed two homers in four at bats against starter Ryu last season.
"Yeah," Sandberg said, "but it's also about the long haul and the long season."
It marked Utley's first scheduled rest; he missed two games earlier in April with the flu. The light-hitting combination of Nix and Galvis cost the Phillies in the fourth and eighth innings when rallies sputtered. Sandberg lamented that, but need not dwell on it because Los Angeles later handed the Phillies a win.
And, finally, it is Hamels' turn.
"We've got a streak going," Burnett said. "Two in a row and now three. I'm excited to watch him. We've missed him. ... To be .500 right now is good because we had some close games we could have won. But these guys aren't content with anything."