But they also shot the debutante. The Phillies used seven walks between newcomer, George Sherrill, and the young Clayton Kershaw to set up two 3-run homers to sink the Dodgers' hopes of starting the series off on a positive note. The 8-6 victory hands back home field advantage to the Phillies.
Kershaw was sailing along after four scoreless innings. Then he imploded in the fifth with the Dodgers holding a 1-0 lead on a homer by James Loney (after the Fan said he didn't have enough power to play first). Kershaw's fifth inning: Single, wild pitch, walk, homer, walk (the pitcher!), fielder's choice, wild pitch, strike out, wild pitch, walk, double and done for the day.
As bad and as disappointing as Kershaw's day was, it didn't hurt nearly as bad as George Sherrill's contribution to the night. The Dodgers clawed back on Hamels to make it a 5-4 game, which, with the Phillies' bullpen, is not a bad place to be. True to form, the Dodgers would score two more against Madson, which would have been enough. But Sherrill, who had to this point been brilliant for the Dodgers since coming over from the Orioles, walked the first two batters he faced and then coughed up a three-run homer of his own to Jason Werth. Seven walks against the Phillies is going to hurt you and six of the seven batters that walked, scored.
So now the Dodgers have to hope that Vincente Padilla has one more good game in him. Baseball fans have been waiting for Padilla to return to his normal form and the Dodgers have to hope that it isn't going to happen on Friday. The Phillies are taking a gamble of their own by starting Pedro Martinez who hasn't thrown a meaningful post season inning since the 2004 World Series. Somehow, it feels more comforting to pitch an aging version of the toughest pitcher of his generation than Blanton or Happ or any of the Phillies' other starters. To this Fan, it feels more possible for Martinez to summon up his old magic than for Padilla to keep up his own unfathomable magic in two months with the Dodgers.