Rockies top Phillies, Dodgers win in ninth

The Los Angeles Dodgers rallied in the ninth to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, as John Lackey's performance helped neighbours LA Angels to victory against the Boston Red Sox. The Rockies edged the Phillies to level the play-off series 1-1.


REUTERS - The Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for two runs in the ninth inning to beat the St Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Thursday and claim a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five National League Division Series.

Earlier, the visiting Colorado Rockies grabbed a 4-0 lead and held on to beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-4 to level their NLDS at 1-1, while in the American League Division Series, the Los Angeles Angels capitalised on a strong performance from pitcher John Lackey to take their opener against the Boston Red Sox 5-0.

St Louis were on the brink of tying their series against the Dodgers with two outs in the ninth inning and nobody on base then a botched catch by Matt Holliday on a fly ball from James Loney set up a nightmare finish for the visitors.

Loney, who reached second base on the error, was replaced by pinch runner Juan Pierre. Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin then walked Casey Blake before giving up a game-tying single to Ron Belliard.

Pinch-hitter Mark Loretta came through with a bloop single to shallow centre field that scored Blake with the winning run.

"That's about as tough a loss as you can have," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa told reporters.

"Incredible," was the view of Dodgers manager Joe Torre, whose team will go to St Louis to resume the series on Saturday.

The finish spoiled a great outing from Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright, who gave up one run on three hits, striking out even with just one walk in eight innings.

Angels end streak

Across town, the Angels rode the right arm of Lackey and used a three-run home run from Torii Hunter in the fifth inning to snap a streak of six consecutive home playoff losses.

Lackey allowed four hits over 7 1/3 innings to get his first post-season victory since 2002 while the Angels took an early advantage in the best-of-five series.

The Angels have been eliminated by the Red Sox in the ALDS in two straight seasons and three times in the last five years.

Hunter's blast saw Los Angeles grab a 3-0 lead on Boston left-hander Jon Lester, who took the loss after pitching six innings and striking out five.

Kendry Morales gave the Angels some breathing space with a two-RBI single in the seventh and reliever Darren Oliver pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to seal the win.

In Philadelphia, the Rockies were able to get out of a ninth-inning jam to secure a series-tying victory.

Colorado closer Huston Street got Shane Victorino to line out to second baseman Clint Barmes with men on first and second base to end the game after Jayson Werth had homered in the eighth to get Philadelphia within one run.

The best-of-five series now shifts to Colorado

Carlos Gonzalez had singled, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt before coming home on an infield dribbler by Todd Helton to open the scoring in the first.

The Rockies added two more runs in the fourth and another run in the fifth before the Phillies came roaring back.

Cole Hamels took the loss, leaving after five innings to be with his wife, who went into labour during the game.

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