LOS ANGELES - Matt Stairs had been waiting for a moment like this.
Funny, but Phillies fans have been waiting for a moment like this, too. It's just that their wait has been a little longer.
Stairs crushed a majestic two-run, pinch-hit home run to right field in the top of the eighth inning last night at Dodger Stadium to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, 7-5. The Phillies lead the best-of-seven series, three games to one, and need just one more victory to play in their first World Series since 1993.
"You've been here for a month and you want to get that one big hit where you really feel like you're part of the team," Stairs said.
"Not that I don't feel like I'm part of the team, but when you get that nice celebration coming in the dugout and you're getting your ass hammered by guys, there's no better feeling than to have that done."
A game-tying two-run home run from Shane Victorino and the two-run moon shot from Stairs in the eighth - along with a big four-out save from Brad Lidge - have the Phillies on the brink.
One more win, folks.
"We believe we can do it," Lidge said. "All our focus is on winning Game 5. We have Cole on the mound. It's a great opportunity to wrap this up. Winning tonight gives us a huge advantage, especially the way we did it."
Beat the Dodgers tomorrow night in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium - and aren't you just thrilled that manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee stuck with their plan and didn't have Cole Hamels pitch on short rest last night? - and the Phillies can start relaxing and thinking about the Boston Red Sox or Tampa Bay Rays.
"That's the goal, to win it here," Ryan Howard said. "We know the Dodgers are going to come out fired up because they have their backs against the wall. They're a dangerous team, and [Chad] Billingsley is a guy who wants to come up big for them. It feels very, very good right now, but the task at hand is to win Game 5."
The Phillies overcame a 5-3 deficit in the eighth, which started with Howard's single to center field. Two batters later, Victorino, who is enjoying his villain's role in Los Angeles, stepped into the batter's box with one out. He ripped a first-pitch breaking ball over the right-field fence for a two-run homer to tie the game. Victorino is hitting .267 (8 for 30) with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and 11 RBIs in the postseason.
Victorino's 11 RBIs in the postseason is the most of any player.
The Phillies pulled out the stops after Stairs' homer. Lefthander J.C. Romero got the first two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning when Dodgers leftfielder Manny Ramirez came to the plate.
Manuel called for Lidge. It was just the second time this year that Manuel called in Lidge before the ninth inning.
Lidge allowed a double to Ramirez and Russell Martin reached on a strikeout after a wild pitch, but he got James Loney to fly out to end the inning. Lidge worked a perfect ninth to pick up his fifth save of the postseason.
"We're one away," Stairs said.
And the Phillies want to make it happen tomorrow night.