PHILADELPHIA - Ryan Howard and the defending champs are back in the World Series — proving last year was no fluke and looking even more dangerous this time around.
Jayson Werth homered twice, Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz also connected and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to win their second straight NL pennant.
Brad Lidge closed it out, Howard was selected NL championship series MVP and the Phillies became the first team to reach consecutive World Series since the New York Yankees in 2000-01.
“I can get used to it,” manager Charlie Manuel told a cheering crowd. “We got one more step and we’re going to get it!”
Now, Jimmy Rollins and crew wait for their next opponent. They’ll go for their third World Series title beginning next Wednesday night at New York or Los Angeles. The Yankees lead the Angels 3-1 in the ALCS, which resumes Thursday night at Angel Stadium.
Meanwhile, slugger Manny Ramirez, manager Joe Torre and the rest of the Dodgers go home after leading the NL with 95 wins in the regular season and sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the division series.
“They’re confident, they’re talented, and they’re going where we all want to go right now — the World Series,” Torre said, praising the power-hitting Phillies.
With their latest big night at the plate, Philadelphia overcame another shaky outing by 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Los Angeles closed to 9-4 in the eighth, but Ryan Madson escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Russell Martin and retiring Casey Blake on a grounder.
After beating Tampa Bay in last year’s World Series, the Phillies are trying to become the first repeat champions from the NL since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76. The Yankees were the last team to win consecutive titles when they captured three in a row from 1998-2000.
“We got one more step,” Howard said. “Then we got action!”
Andre Ethier, James Loney and pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson hit solo homers for the Dodgers, who also lost to the Phillies in five games in last year’s NLCS.
The teams combined to tie the record of seven homers in a postseason game. It was the fifth time that’s happened.
“They were better than us,” Ramirez said. “You saw what they were capable of doing.”
Fireworks exploded over Citizens Bank Park after Victorino caught a fly ball for the final out. The NL East champions, who beat Colorado in four games in the opening round, met Lidge in the middle of the diamond to celebrate and began putting on hats with the stitched-in logo of “WS2009.”
Team president David Montgomery led the crowd in a chant of “Charlie! Charlie!” during trophy ceremonies on the field. Then, players retreated to the clubhouse to spray champagne and celebrate.
On the 29th anniversary of their first World Series title, the Phillies became the first NL team to win consecutive pennants since the Atlanta Braves did it 13 years ago.
“Big games call for big times,” Werth said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going. We’ve got four more games to win.”
Five pitchers tossed 4 2-3 strong innings in relief of an ineffective Hamels, who hasn’t been the dominant ace he was last postseason. Chad Durbin earned the win by retiring all four batters he faced, including Ramirez representing the tying run in the fifth.
Lidge, who has bounced back from a rough season with spotless work in the playoffs, tossed a scoreless ninth.
“I always believed it was going to turn around,” he said. “One of the biggest things was I was starting to feel really healthy at the end of the season.”
Hamels allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1-3 innings. Still, he got a standing ovation on his way to the dugout.
Vicente Padilla, the former Phillie who was excellent in his first two playoff starts, lasted just three-plus innings and gave up six runs.
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
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