Dodgers try to keep Philly winless in L.A.

October 12, 2008 4:23:22 PM PDT
The Dodgers have the Phillies right where they want them - at home. That's where the Dodgers were 4-0 against the Phillies during the regular season.

"We just got to get hot at the right time and now is the right time in front of our fans," catcher Russell Martin said Saturday. "We know we can beat them."

The Dodgers went 23-9 at home after the All-Star break, the best record in the major leagues during that span.

They'll need any home-field advantage because for the first time in eight NLCS appearances, the Dodgers have dropped the first two games. Sunday will mark the 20th anniversary of the last time they won the NLCS, shutting out the New York Mets 6-0 in Game 7 at home. In 10 meetings so far this season, the Dodgers and Phillies have won all their home games.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was at Dodger Stadium for a workout Saturday a day after his mother died, but he didn't speak with reporters. Shane Victorino, who drove in four runs in Friday's 8-5 victory, also was in the clubhouse a day after learning his grandmother died.

After sweeping the Chicago Cubs in three games in the first round, the Dodgers find themselves on the other side with the potential of playing three consecutive games at home.

"I'm probably a little more nervous when I have a 2-0 lead than even or down, because you don't want people to get overconfident," manager Joe Torre said.

"On the other side of the coin, you have to just think in terms of not looking too far ahead. You've got to win the game on the field instead of worrying about how many you have to win out of the next five, stuff like that."

The Dodgers had the tying run at the plate in the first two games, when they twice blew leads.

"We didn't necessarily play bad baseball," Martin said. "They just played a little better. I don't feel we're getting outplayed in any way."

Los Angeles will start right-hander Hiroki Kuroda against 45-year-old lefty Jamie Moyer in Game 3 Sunday night.

"To get these guys, you got to make pitches," Martin said. "Baseball is a game of failure and you can't be afraid to fail. Kuroda knows how to get guys out. He's a battler and he goes out there and competes."

Kuroda worked 6 1-3 brilliant innings of a 3-1 victory in the division series clincher against Chicago in the first postseason outing of his career.

"The Phillies have great hitters and great home run hitters, and Phillies' stadium, it's a lot smaller than Dodger Stadium," Kuroda said through a translator. "Here I think it's a little bit more difficult to hit home runs, but that doesn't mean that they're not going to hit. I think the Phillies have more advantage with their small field."

Manny Ramirez homered again Friday - his third in five playoff games this season. He's driven in seven runs during the playoffs and 71 in his postseason career, trailing only Bernie Williams' total of 80.

Wearing a Led Zeppelin T-shirt, Ramirez was his usual smiling self before going out and taking some cuts Saturday. He has hit 10 career home runs off Moyer, more than against any pitcher.

"It's not over yet," Ramirez said. "Anything is possible. We are home."

Torre said he's considering starting Nomar Garciaparra at first or third base Sunday because of his high career slugging percentage against Moyer, who doesn't overpower hitters and instead relies on a variety of pitches.

Moyer admitted he's never even thrown 90 mph.

"Two pitches added together, maybe," he said. "But not one total pitch."

Moyer compared Ramirez and the rest of the Dodgers' lineup to "a school of sharks."

"Kind of on the prowl," he said. "If you can kind of keep them all separated in the pool, it's a great way to go after them. But when they kind of swarm together and they see blood in the water, they attack and they do a very good job of it.

Ramirez has had success in the past against Moyer, who will strive to keep the bases empty ahead and behind of Ramirez.

"If you have to pitch to him, you have to pitch to him," Moyer said. "All that matters to me is tomorrow. What's happened in the past, I'll give him that. But tomorrow the slate is even."

Old enough to be the father of some of his teammates, Moyer appreciates the workmanlike attitude the younger players have shown so far.

"After the game, there was music on in the clubhouse. The music might have been ridiculous, but it wasn't ridiculously loud," he said. "I'm sensing there's some excitement but not exhilaration like, `Hey, we just won."'

Torre confirmed he'll go back to Derek Lowe, who started Game 1, on three days' rest for Game 4 Monday.

"He's pitched on a big stage before," the manager said. "I don't think he's going to overthink the situation."

Most of the Dodgers refused to call Sunday's game a "must win."

"You just got to remember to breathe and be sure of yourself," Casey Blake said. "I don't think anyone is hanging their head at all."


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