What Game 1 Means for the Dodgers

After five innings of Game 1, the Dodgers were in great shape, leading 2-0 in one of the few games of the series where they don't have the pitching edge. That all changed very quickly when homers from Pat Burrell and Chase Utley put the Phillies ahead 3-2. The Dodgers put a scare into Brad Lidge in the ninth, as both Matt Kemp and Casey Blake hit deep fly balls--Lidge can't keep going like this forever, one of those is going to leave the yard eventually--but they failed to score, and the Phillies held on to take the opener.

All the news that came out of Game 1 wasn't bad for the Dodgers, however. Down 3-2 in the 7th, Joe Torre elected to use Greg Maddux to get three outs. Having Maddux throw eight pitches four days before Game 4 certainly doesn't rule out him starting on Monday, but it does indicate that LA intends to use him out of the bullpen. That means the Dodgers will either bring Derek Lowe back on three days rest, or start the 20-year old Clayton Kershaw. Either one of those is a better option than Maddux, who, despite all his experience, is an inferior option at this point.

Down 1-0, the Dodgers now assume the role of underdogs in the NLCS, but they're still in pretty decent shape. They have the clear advantage in Game 2, with one of the league's best young pitchers, Chad Billingsley, going against Brett Myers. If they win that one they'll have split the first two on the road, and that's all you can really ask for. The series then returns to LA, where the Dodgers will throw Hiroki Kuroda against Jamie Moyer, and then one of the previously discussed Game 4 options against Joe Blanton. Los Angeles lost the first game, but that was expected; now the pressure is on Billingsley to send the series back west tied at one.

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