If it were ever easy, it wouldn't be as much fun.
The Phillies' slumbering bats woke all at once in the fifth inning, erasing a 1-0 deficit against Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, and then the club held on for dear life over the last four innings before Brad Lidge nailed down a wild 8-6 win that gave the Phils a 1-0 lead in the National League Championship Series.
Billed as a matchup between brilliantly talented young lefthanders Kershaw and Cole Hamels, Game One was just that through four innings. LA grabbed a 1-0 lead on James Loney's second-inning solo home run, but the Phils erased that with a five-spot in the fifth as Raul Ibanez singled, Pedro Feliz walked, and October hero Carlos Ruiz crushed a three-run homer out to left field. Later in the inning, Ryan Howard came up with two on and two outs and drove a two-run double to right field, putting the Phils up 5-1. He was the last Phillie to face Kershaw, the talented 21 year-old lefty.
But Hamels could not handle prosperity. Russell Martin led off the home fifth with a ground-rule double on a two-strike pitch, and after pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson struck out, Rafael Furcal singled to put runners on the corners. Next came Andre Ethier, who hit what looked like a double-play ball to short. Jimmy Rollins hesitated, however, and fed Chase Utley too late to finish the twin killing; Utley threw the back half of the potential inning-ender into the dugout, and Martin scored. Visibly rattled, Hamels fell behind Manny Ramirez 2-0 and then laid in a change-up that Ramirez crushed for a two-run homer that brought the Dodgers within a run at 5-4.
There it stayed for three innings, with former Dodger Chan Ho Park turning in a brilliant inning of scoreless relief in the 7th after coming in with a man on second and no outs. Joe Torre called upon George Sherrill to start the eighth, and he started by walking Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth. Raul Ibanez then jumped on Sherrill's first pitch, a slider that he bombed over the wall for a three-run homer and an 8-4 Phillies lead. It was the first homer Sherrill had allowed to a lefty hitter this season.
The Dodgers weren't done, however. With Ryan Madson on the mound in the 8th, they got one run back on three straight singles from Loney, Rafael Belliard and Russell Martin. After pinch-hitter Juan Pierre grounded into a fielder's choice that put runners on the corners with one out, Furcal hit a sacrifice fly that brought LA within 8-6. Ethier followed with a single, but Madson escaped further damage by getting Ramirez to ground out.
After the Phils could not score against Jonathan Broxton in the ninth, it was time for Brad Lidge. The once-and-again closer started the ninth by allowing a single on a two-strike offering to Matt Kemp, but followed by inducing a double-play grounder from Casey Blake. Lidge jumped out in front of Loney 0-2, but lost him to a walk. With Belliard up as the tying run, however, Lidge got a popup to shallow left which Jimmy Rollins squeezed to preserve the win.
With home-field advantage secured, the Phils go for a 2-0 advantage Friday as ex-Dodger Pedro Martinez faces ex-Phillie Vicente Padilla.