It wasn't going to happen again.
Fastball-hitting Matt Stairs had been the playoff hero against fire-throwing Dodgers reliever Jonathan Broxton last year.
"I wasn't going to give him one over the middle," Broxton said early this morning standing at his locker in the Dodgers' clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park. "Keep it down, and try to get him to chase."
The Phillies' hitting star of last year's National League Championship Series Game 4 took his walk, content to be a supporting player. Eventually, Broxton ended up with Jimmy Rollins up, two outs - and a different approach.
"I just wanted to stay aggressive - try to make him beat me on my best pitch," Broxton said.
So it was a 99-m.p.h. fastball that Rollins stroked into Phillies history. His two-out double scored two runs and had every last Phillies player piling on him at third base after the 5-4 victory. Broxton? He walked out of the Dodgers' clubhouse alone, hands in his jeans.
"He put a good swing on it, barreled it up," Broxton said. "It got through the defense. You can't play everywhere. It got through."
Was the pitch where he wanted it to be?
"I haven't seen it," Broxton said.
Did it feel like it?
"I haven't seen it," he said.
How was his control?
"I felt fine," Broxton said.
For this National League Championship Series, the book said that the Dodgers had one distinct advantage: This season, their leads held up. Their bullpen tended to get the job done.
Last night was the time to press that advantage.
But Brad Lidge, who got the win last night, had made a point out in L.A.: A lot of pitchers who go well during the season think if they stick to the same approach in the postseason, that will work fine. Instead, the extra adrenaline has to be used to sharpen your focus, Lidge said.
So it doesn't matter now that George Sherrill, a trade-deadline Dodgers acquisition and difference-making setup man, had combined with Broxton to close down the Phillies in the eighth inning.
Doesn't matter what Joe Torre had said about Sherrill.
"Just the fact that you have a closer who was willing to be something other than a closer . . . made us whole down there," Torre said before the game about Sherrill's joining the bullpen. In 30 regular-season appearances, Sherrill had pitched scoreless relief 28 times for a 0.65 post-trade ERA.
Of his pre-Sherrill setup options, "I just felt that we really didn't have any setup guy," Torre said. "We kept sharing that responsibility with a lot of inexperienced people."
After Sherrill struck out Howard in the eighth, Torre brought in Broxton to face Jayson Werth with two outs. This was as close to a redemptive situation for the Dodgers reliever as he could ever expect.
This time, Broxton got Werth to fly out to right to end the eighth-inning threat, stranding Shane Victorino and Chase Utley. One of his pitches hit 101 m.p.h. on the radar.
In the ninth, the righthander's first test was Raul Ibanez. He grounded out. Up next was Stairs, who had struggled this season while Broxton shined. Broxton understood that it didn't matter. He avoided trouble.
Next was Carlos Ruiz. First pitch, Broxton hit him on the elbow. Another pinch-hitter, Greg Dobbs, up next, lined out weakly to third. Rollins had the last shot at Broxton, and a little more Phillies postseason history.
"Jimmy, when he's got his swing, he can explode on a fastball," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.