PHILADELPHIA - Entering Game 5 of the NLCS, Jayson Werth was batting a mere .071 for the series with his only hit being a two-run homer in Game 3.
While some baseball enthusiasts might have said that Werth was in the midst of an ill-timed slump, others would have protested that he was due to break out.
That's exactly what he did Wednesday night.
Werth went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs and led the Phillies to a 10-4 series-clinching win over the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizen's Bank Ballpark. It is the second straight year the Phillies have beaten the Dodgers four-games-to-one in the NLCS. The victory sends the Phils to their second consecutive World Series and their seventh in team history.
“You just always have to think positive," said Werth, who is now the franchise's all-time leader with seven career post-season home runs. “Things hadn't been going too well for me lately, but we were still finding ways to win as a team. Tonight I was able to contribute and it feels great."
After the Dodgers took an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first off of a solo homer by Andre Either, Werth stepped to the dish in the bottom half of the inning with runners on first and second. He worked the count full before unloading a shot to deep right-center that gave the Phillies a lead they would never relinquish.
He would single and score a run in the fourth prior to unleashing another home run in the bottom of the seventh. Three of Werth's four hits in the series were homers. He currently has five home runs this post-season.
“Big games call for big times," Werth said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going. We've got four more games to win."
Although Ryan Howard had his most uneventful game of this post-season (0-for-2 with two walks), the left-handed slugger was awarded the NLCS MVP award. He hit .333 (5-for-15) in the five games with two homers and eight RBIs. Howard leads the playoffs with 14 RBIS.
Howard recently tied Lou Gehrig (and later Alex Rodriguez joined the club) as the only three hitters to record a RBI in eight straight playoff games. However, Howard became the ambassador of a new club when he set an all-time record with seven consecutive games with a RBI in a single post-season. Gehrig and Rodriguez had done theirs over two seasons.
“I think you have to expect to be in the big moments and be ready for them," said Howard. “Pretty much the only thing you can do is mentally prepare and want to be in that position. I wasn't trying to do too much. I was just trying to get good pitches and hit them. I tried to keep everything simple.
“I think everyone dreams of being in the World Series, Game 7 with the count 3-2. You just have to want to be in the moment."
Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino also homered for the Phils. Feliz took the first pitch he saw over the right field fence to lead off the second inning, while Victorino smacked a two-run dinger in the sixth after the Dodgers had closed the gap to 6-3.
Brad Lidge then came in and closed the door in the ninth. He struck out Jim Thome before getting Rafael Furcal and Ronnie Belliard to ground out consecutively to end the game.
Philadelphia becomes the first National League team ever to win five consecutive post-season series without ever trailing game-wise. The Phils are the first NL team since the 1995-96 Atlanta Braves to make it to back-to-back World Series. Now, they will try to become the first NL team to win consecutive World Series since the Cincinnati Reds did so in 1975-76.
“I think as I'm sitting here, I know we can win the World Series again," admitted manager Charlie Manual, whose team is now 11-1 at home in the last two post-seasons. “But things have to be right for us, and we've got to play our best."
The Phillies also became the first NL team to win 16 postseason games in a 20-game stretch. The New York Yankees are the only AL club to do it, accomplishing the feat four times.