Phillies back to the Promised Land

Ryan Howard and the defending champs are back in the World Series — proving last year was no fluke and looking even more dangerous this time around.

Philadelphia Phillie Jayson Werth gets doused with champagne after capturing the National League pennant by defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 Wednesday.

Phillies 10 Dodgers 4

PHILADELPHIA — Ryan Howard and the defending champs are back in the World Series — proving last year was no fluke and looking even more dangerous this time around.

Jayson Werth homered twice, Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz also connected and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-4 in Game 5 on Wednesday night to win their second straight NL pennant.

Brad Lidge closed it out, Howard was selected NL championship series MVP and the Phillies became the first team to reach consecutive World Series since the New York Yankees in 2000-01.

“I can get used to it,” manager Charlie Manuel told a cheering crowd. “We got one more step and we’re going to get it.”

Now, Jimmy Rollins and crew wait for their next opponent. They’ll go for their third World Series title beginning next Wednesday night at New York or Los Angeles. The Yankees lead the Angels 3-1 in the ALCS, which resumes tonight at Angel Stadium.

Meanwhile, slugger Manny Ramirez, manager Joe Torre and the rest of the Dodgers go home after leading the NL with 95 wins in the regular season and sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the division series.

“They’re confident, they’re talented, and they’re going where we all want to go right now — the World Series,” Torre said, praising the power-hitting Phillies.

With a big night at the plate, Philadelphia overcame another shaky outing by 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. Los Angeles closed to 9-4 in the eighth, but Ryan Madson escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., and retiring Casey Blake on a grounder.

After beating Tampa Bay in last year’s World Series, the Phillies are trying to become the first repeat champions from the NL since the Cincinnati Reds in 1975-76. The Yankees were the last team to win consecutive titles when they captured three in a row from 1998-2000.

“We got one more step,” Howard said. “Then we got action.”

Andre Ethier, James Loney and pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson hit solo homers for the Dodgers, who also lost to the Phillies in five games in last year’s NLCS.

The teams combined to tie the record of seven homers in a post-season game. It was the fifth time that’s happened.

“They were better than us,” Ramirez said. “You saw what they were capable of doing.”

Fireworks exploded over Citizens Bank Park after Victorino caught a fly ball for the final out. The NL East champions, who beat Colorado in four games in the opening round, met Lidge in the middle of the diamond to celebrate and began putting on hats with the stitched-in logo of “WS2009.”

After trophy ceremonies on the field, players retreated to the clubhouse to spray champagne and celebrate. On the 29th anniversary of their first World Series title, the Phillies became the first NL team to win consecutive pennants since the Atlanta Braves did it 13 years ago.

“Big games call for big times,” Werth said. “Hopefully, we can keep it going. We’ve got four more games to win.”

Five pitchers tossed 4 2/3 strong innings in relief of an ineffective Hamels, who hasn’t been the dominant ace he was last post-season. Chad Durbin earned the win by retiring all four batters he faced, including Ramirez representing the tying run in the fifth.

Lidge, who has bounced back from a rough season with a 0.00 ERA during the playoffs, worked a scoreless ninth.

“I always believed it was going to turn around,” Lidge said. “One of the biggest things was I was starting to feel really healthy at the end of the season.”

Hamels allowed three runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Still, he got a standing ovation on his way to the dugout.

Vicente Padilla, the former Phillie who was excellent in his first two playoff starts, lasted just three-plus innings and gave up six runs.

Once considered the NL’s laughingstock, the Phillies have been thinking dynasty since riding down Broad Street on flatbed trucks during the city’s first championship parade in 25 years last October.

So what that they’re the team of 10,000 losses? The sad-sack losers of the past are a distant memory in Philadelphia.

This will be Philadelphia’s seventh trip to the World Series in 127 years. The Phillies beat Kansas City in 1980 and lost in 1915, 1950, 1983 and 1993. The Yankees swept Philadelphia in ’50, winning the first three games of that series by one run.

Another sellout crowd implored their team to “Beat LA!” and waved their white-and-red rally towels, rocking Citizens Bank Park on a beautiful, 17 C night. It was only 8 C on Monday night.

Coming off a dramatic comeback win in Game 4, capped by Rollins’ two-run double with two outs in the ninth, the Phillies got it going with two outs in the first. Chase Utley walked to reach safely for the 25th straight post-season game, tying Boog Powell’s major league record.

Padilla wanted no part of Howard, who hit .333 with two homers and eight RBIs in the series. He walked him on four pitches after firing three inside fastballs, hoping to make the big slugger a little uneasy.

Padilla then threw three straight balls to Werth. The fired-up crowd roared louder with every pitch out of the strike zone.

After taking two strikes, Werth sent a drive to the seats in right-centre for a 3-1 lead. Fans gave Werth a curtain call and another standing ovation when he ran out to right field in the top of the second.

Werth’s solo shot off Hong-Chih Kuo in the seventh gave him five homers this post-season and made it 9-3.

Ethier put the Dodgers up 1-0 in the first when he connected on a 1-2 fastball down the middle, sending it into the seats in right-centre. Loney’s shot in the second also came on a 1-2 pitch, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

Victorino hit a two-run shot to left off Game 1 starter Clayton Kershaw for an 8-3 lead in the sixth.

Notes: Dallas Green, manager of the 1980 Phillies championship team, threw out the first pitch to Manuel. Green got a big hug from Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa, the shortstop on the ’80 team. … The Phillies are 2-2 against the Dodgers in the NLCS. Los Angeles won in 1977-78.

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