This is as good as it's ever been.
Showing the power and patience that has made them the class of the National League, the Phillies turned aside the Dodgers with a 10-4 win to claim their second consecutive National League pennant and a return trip to the World Series. Jayson Werth homered twice, and Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz reached the seats as well to support Cole Hamels and five relievers.
The hero of last year's run to the championship, Hamels again was less than bulletproof in the 2009 postseason. He allowed a solo home run to Andre Ethier in the first inning, another to James Loney in the second, and a third to pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson in the fifth before giving way to the bullpen. But J.A. Happ and Chad Durbin combined to get through the fifth with the Phils' 6-3 lead intact.
Meanwhile, Werth's first homer had turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead. With two outs in the first, Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla had walked Chase Utley and Ryan Howard before Werth--previously 1 for 14 in the series--took a Padilla pitch over the wall to right for a three-run homer. After Loney's solo shot had cut the lead to 3-2 in the top of the second, Pedro Feliz--1 for 13 in the series coming into the game--led off the bottom of the inning with a solo shot to right that made it 4-2. Two innings later, the Phils added two more when Werth singled and Raul Ibanez doubled him in. After a walk to Carlos Ruiz, reliever Ramon Troncoso hit Jimmy Rollins with a pitch to load the bases; George Sherrill came in, ran the count to 3-0 on Shane Victorino, threw a strike, and then hit him with a pitch to force in Ibanez and give the Phils a 6-2 lead.
After Hudson's solo homer made it 6-3, the Phils stretched their lead to 8-3 in the sixth when, with two outs, Rollins was hit by a Clayton Kershaw pitch and Victorino followed with a tape-measure blast to left. An inning later, Werth--now the all-time franchise leader for extra-base hits in the postseason--bombed his second home run of the night to center field to stretch the lead to 9-3.
The Dodgers got one run back in the top of the eighth, when Chan Ho Park gave up singles to Ronnie Belliard and Andre Ethier to start the inning and Ryan Madson followed with a walk to Manny Ramirez and an RBI single to Matt Kemp. But Madson rallied to get a Loney foul out to third, then struck out Russell Martin and got Casey Blake to ground into a fielder's choice. After the Phils added a run in the bottom of the eighth--on a Rollins single, Victorino double and wild pitch--Brad Lidge came on and finished it with a strikeout of Mark Loretta, a Rafael Furcal popout to Carlos Ruiz, and a Belliard flyout to Victorino.
The Phils become the first National League team to win back-to-back pennants since the 1995-96 Braves, and go for the first consecutive championships since the 1998-2000 Yankees.
Cherish this, my friends. It doesn't come very often, and that makes it all the sweeter.