LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers put some life back into this National League Championship Series and, at the same time, may have fanned the flames of an emerging vendetta with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Facing the distasteful prospect of falling behind 0-3 to the Phillies, the Dodgers took care of business early and often last night, beating 45-year-old Jamie Moyer like a drum on their way to a 7-2 victory that cuts Philadelphia's series lead to 2-1.
Game 4 is tonight at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles will send right-hander Derek Lowe, working on three days' rest, against Phillies right-hander Joe Blanton.
After losing twice in Philadelphia, the Dodgers came home to the largest crowd in Dodger Stadium history (56,800) and wasted no time establishing that this is going to be a long series by scoring five runs in the first against the soft-tossing Moyer.
Bad blood that had been festering since early in Game 2 when Phillies pitcher Brett Myers unleashed a fastball that went behind Manny Ramirez's head, boiled over in the third inning of this game. In the second with the Dodgers holding that five-run advantage, Phillies reliever Clay Condrey threw a fastball high and tight, knocking Canadian-born catcher Russ Martin down. Martin was clearly upset over the incident.
In the bottom half of the inning, with two outs, Dodgers pitcher Hiroki Kuroda left no doubt about the message he was delivering when he fired a pitch that sailed just over Shane Victorino's head.
That prompted warnings to both benches from umpire Mike Everitt as well as some jawing back and forth. When Victorino grounded out to first base, more words were exchanged and the benches emptied.
"Just don't throw at my head," Victorino said after the game. "I'll forget about it and get right back at it (today)."
No blows were exchanged, though Ramirez was eager to get in Myers' face. Within a few moments the feud was put back on simmer.
"They've been throwing high and tight at us, so we were forced to retaliate," Martin said. "But I don't see it spilling over."
"I don't look at it as bad blood," L.A. manager Joe Torre said. "It's baseball. For years, baseball has had a way of policing itself. You have teammates and you're there to support them."
This one got away on Moyer in short order. Leading off the first, Rafael Furcal and Andre Ethier hit back-to-back singles and then Ramirez drilled an RBI single. After Martin was hit by a Moyer pitch, Nomar Garciaparra struck out. Casey Blake then hit an opposite-field single to drive in the game's second run. Moyer fanned Matt Kemp and looked as if he might squirm out of the inning with only superficial wounds.
But then, with two strikes, second baseman Blake DeWitt cut him to the bone with a triple down the right-field line, clearing the bases to make it 5-0. "That was a huge hit," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "A lot of times, Moyer is so crafty he'll pitch out of situations like that and he almost did. But that was a backbreaker."
After the Dodgers scored in the fourth, the Phillies tried to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh. After three consecutive hits to start the inning, including an RBI single by Pat Burrell, Casey Wade relieved Kuroda and got three consecutive outs, leaving runners at the corners.
"Our club has a different personality (at home) and the big difference tonight was that we didn't give them a chance to get off the mat," Torre said.