Many Dodgers players wondered over the weekend if Phillies right-hander Brett Myers intentionally threw behind Manny Ramirez in the first inning of Game 2. They also wondered why none of the Dodgers pitchers retaliated.
On Sunday night, Hiroki Kuroda took matters into his own hands.
With two out and the bases empty in the third inning of Game Three of the NL Championship Series, Kuroda tossed a pitch over Shane Victorino's head. Victorino gestured at Kuroda, who doesn't speak English, accusing them of aiming for his head. After grounding to first base, he had words with Kuroda, prompting both benches and bullpens to spill onto the field. Several players, including emotional Manny Ramirez, were separated.
Although he declined to comment on the incident directly, Victorino joked that he didn't understand what Kuroda was saying.
"I should've brought (Japanese outfielder) So (Taguchi) out there to translate," he said.
Myers continued to insist after the game that he wasn't attempting to throw at Ramirez.
"I didn't think the ball even was close to his head," Myers said. "I definitely wasn't trying to do it. It's an unwritten rule that you don't go out and try to hit somebody in the head. But they did what they thought they had to do. I was surprised they threw at Shane instead of (Ryan) Howard or (Chase) Utley. It's part of the game, and hopefully it's out of the way."
|Dodgers teammates hold back Manny Ramirez after the benches emptied when Shane Victorino took exception to a pitch over his head. (Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images)|
Meanwhile, the beanball issue, helped hide a dismal loss for the Phillies, who were never in the game.
Jamie Moyer allowed five first-inning runs and lasted only 1 1/3 innings, his shortest start since July 4, 1998, as the Phillies lost Game 3 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium. It also was the shortest postseason start for a Phillies pitcher since Larry Christensen lasted one-third of an inning in Game 4 of the 1980 World Series.
The Phillies scored runs in the second and seventh innings. Ryan Howard went 2-for-4, snapping an 0-for-11 drought.
Jamie Moyer, 46, became the oldest pitcher to start at LCS game Sunday night. But he faced a Dodgers lineup stacked with hitters who have had success against him, and he allowed five first-inning runs to put the Phillies in an insurmountable hole. In five career playoff starts before this year, Moyer was 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA. This season, he's 0-2 and has allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings for a 13.50 ERA. Both of the Phillies' postseason losses have come in Moyer's starts. "They hit some pretty good pitches," Moyer said. "They were able to take advantage. They got some guys on base, and they kept it going."
Ryan Howard went hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games of the NLCS, leaving Phillies manager Charlie Manuel to draw the following conclusion: Howard is trying too hard. "He's got to be patient enough to stand there and get a good ball to hit," Manuel said Sunday before Game 3 at Dodger Stadium. "It's a matter of time before he starts seeing the ball." Howard collected his first hits of the series, a leadoff double in the second inning and a single in the seventh. Problem solved? "I was just trying to see some pitches," Howard said. "Luckily, I got a couple to hit."
J.C. Romero gingerly walked off the mound after recording the final out of the eighth inning, apparently injuring his leg. "I just landed the wrong way," Romero said. "I had a little twist in my ankle. But I'm fine."
Joe Blanton already was feeling pressure to prove himself to his new teammates after being traded to the Phillies in mid-July. Then, in his first start, he had to oppose Mets ace Johan Santana in a first-place showdown at Shea Stadium. Welcome to the Phillies. "My first start was pretty big," said Blanton, the Phillies' starter Monday night in Game 4. "As far as the Mets-Phillies go, it's a big rivalry. It got magnified real quick. And I think, after that, it was almost just kind of downhill. Everything just kind of flowed into place." Blanton went 4-0 with a 4.20 ERA in 13 regular-season starts for the Phillies, then allowed one run and struck out seven in six innings of the clinching victory in Game 4 of the Division Series against the Brewers.
Brett Myers, who sprained his left ankle while running the bases during Game 2, said he will make his next start, scheduled for Game 6 on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. Myers said his ankle is sore and stiff, but he expects the additional rest to help him heal.
Scott Proctor has decided to go ahead with season-ending elbow surgery on Wednesday now that it has become clear he won't be activated for any of this postseason. Proctor will have a partial tear repaired in his flexor tendon and a bone spur shaved down. Proctor, 31, is expected to be fully recovered by the start of spring training.
Matt Kemp was dropped from sixth to seventh in the order after going 1-for-7 with a double and two strikeouts in the first two games of the series. Kemp responded by going 2-for-4 with two singles but two more strikeouts, once with the bases loaded and each time with at least one runner in scoring position. He also got picked off first base.
Manny Ramirez singled in a run in the first inning, giving him at least one RBI in seven consecutive LCS games, a record. Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis held the previous record of six, although Youkilis' streak is still active. Ramirez also walked twice and is 4-for-9 with a double, a home run and five RBI in the series.
Hiroki Kuroda pitched six-plus innings, allowing two runs on five hits. He has allowed just four earned runs in three starts spanning 19 innings this season against the Phillies. Over those three games, he has held their hitters to a .141 average (9-for-64).
Rafael Furcal went 2-for-4 and hit his third career postseason home run. The Dodgers went 13-3 during the regular season whenever he had a multiple-hit game and are 2-0 in such games this postseason. Furcal is hitting .231 (3-for-13) for the series.
The numbers game: 14 - Runs scored by the Dodgers in the first four innings of the first three games of this series, compared to the zero runs they have scored from the fifth inning on. That is in stark contrast to the Dodgers' division-series sweep of the Chicago Cubs, when they scored just five runs, all in a single inning of Game 2, in the first four innings. The Dodgers are hitting just .130 (6-for-46) after the fourth inning in this series.
He said what? "I think in hindsight, probably everybody on our team wished it would have been handled differently. Not only did Manny (Ramirez) get brushed back, but Russell (Martin) kind of did, too. I don't think you want to sit up here and say you're going to hit people, (but) I think there was definitely a situation where you could have maybe done the same thing back." -- Derek Lowe, bemoaning the fact Chad Billingsley didn't retaliate for those two pitches by the Phillies' Brett Myers in Game 2.