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NLCS Game Three Recap: Russell Martin Agonistes

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Cheered on by a briefly full stadium and the Fox broadcast crew, the Dodgers clawed their way back into the National League Championship Series with a 7-2 win over Jamie Moyer and the Phillies. LA got to Moyer early, scoring five times in the first inning--three on a two-out, two-strike bases-loaded double by #8 hitter Blake DeWitt--and again in the second on a Rafael Furcal home run before Charlie Manuel pulled the plug. Phillies relievers were again effective in limiting the Dodgers to one run over the last 6 2/3 innings, but the lineup could not generate much offense against Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed just two runs and five hits in six-plus innings. 

The good news was pretty much limited to Ryan Howard notching his first two hits of the series, and the solid relief work from Clay Condrey, J.A. Happ, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin and J.C. Romero. Otherwise, the game was of interest only for the near-beanball war that erupted after Dodgers catcher Russell Martin was hit by a pitch in the first inning (on a 1-2 count, by Moyer, to load the bases--so intent likely was not an issue), and brushed back by Condrey in the second before hitting into a double play and throwing a hissy fit better suited for one of MTV's semi-reality shows about teenagers than a playoff ballgame. Kuroda responded by throwing over Shane Victorino's head in the third, and both benches emptied. The humorous coda came in the seventh, when Durbin hit Martin on an offspeed pitch. 

While this loss wasn't much fun, one could argue that this never looked like a good matchup. Moyer has gotten hit hard by the Dodgers a time or two in recent years and wasn't sharp in his NLDS start, and Kuroda absolutely owned the Phillies in two August starts against them. Tomorrow's game takes on more urgency now, of course, and the Phils will send Joe Blanton to the hill against Derek Lowe, taking the ball on short rest for Los Angeles.