The Phillies took care of business in Milwaukee today, defeating the Brewers 6-2 to win the National League Division Series in four games and earn the right to face the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL pennant, starting Thursday. Pitching and power were the stories again, with Joe Blanton tossing six brilliant innings and Pat Burrell slugging two of the team's four home runs in the win.
Jimmy Rollins got things started with a solo shot on a full-count pitch to begin the game, and from the jump, the lineup had good at-bats against Jeff Suppan. But as in the first three games, the Phils struggled to cash baserunners, leaving two on in the second. More frustration seemed imminent in the third inning, but after Suppan intentionally walked Ryan Howard to put two men on with two outs, Burrell hit a majestic blast over the left-field wall on a 2-2 pitch to stretch the lead to 4-0. Jayson Werth followed with a solo shot, and the Miller Park crowd went silent.
Joe Blanton kept them that way, striking out seven Brewers through six scoreless innings with an effective mix of fastballs and curves--and walking none. Finally tiring in the seventh, Blanton allowed a long home run to Prince Fielder and a single to J.J. Hardy, and took a seat. Ryan Madson put out that fire and allowed one run in the eighth; meanwhile, Burrell jacked his second homer off former Met Guillermo Mota.
Brad Lidge nailed it down in the ninth, pitching around a one-out single, and the Phils had their first playoff series win since the 1993 NLCS. Now they wait until Thursday to host the Dodgers--probably the one franchise with which the Phillies could be said to have an actual playoff rivalry, having faced off in the NLCS three times in six years between 1977 and 1983.
Savor this one today and tomorrow, then back to work.