for this game

Phillies shake early deficit, take Game 1

Oct 2, 2011 - 1:39 AM Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez homered in the sixth inning to kick-start Philadelphia's offense, and the Phillies overpowered the Cardinals for an 11-6 victory in the opener of their National League Division Series.

The Phillies trailed by three after Lance Berkman hit an early home run off Roy Halladay, but Howard's blast put them ahead and Ibanez's two-run shot chased St. Louis starter Kyle Lohse.

Philadelphia added five more runs in the next two innings to build an insurmountable lead and gain an opportunity to take a 2-0 series lead Sunday.

The Phillies had a team-record 102 victories this season to win their fifth consecutive NL East crown, and the start of Saturday's game mirrored the disappointment of last year's playoff run, which ended in a loss to the Giants in the NLCS.

But as Howard's blast sailed out of the park, there was a sense that a turning point had emerged. While the Phillies continued to add runs, Halladay (1-0) closed out his eight-inning start by retiring 21 consecutive batters.

He allowed Berkman's homer in the first inning, but gave up a total of just three hits and a walk, while striking out eight. It wasn't a no-hitter, like his first postseason start last year, but it helped the Phillies get to the ninth with an 11-3 lead.

"That's why he's the best in the game," said Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols. "I think we had good quality at-bats, but he just makes a good pitch when he needs to and gets out of a jam."

By contrast, Lohse shut down the Phillies early but ended up allowing six runs -- five earned -- in 5 1/3 innings.

The Cardinals went 23-8 to close the season and sneaked into the playoffs as the wild card, thanks to the Phillies' extra-inning victory over the Braves on the last day of the regular season.

Despite missing right fielder Matt Holliday from the lineup because of an injured hand, they grabbed an early lead Saturday after Rafael Furcal began the game with a single through the right side. Pujols walked with one out to bring up Berkman, who hit Halladay's first-pitch fastball off the facade of the second deck in right field for a 3-0 lead.

Halladay explained that the plan was to pitch Berkman away early in the at- bat, but said he made a bad pitch.

"Really just kind of a pulled sinker left to right over the plate," said Halladay. "If it's down, I might get away with it, but it was pretty much thigh high, center cut, about as bad as you can put it."

But Chase Utley doubled and scored on Shane Victorino's single in the fourth, and the Phillies went ahead two innings later.

Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence singled after attacking early in the count, putting two on base for Howard.

Lohse fell behind after throwing several fastballs inside, and another fastball well out of the zone made it a full count. Howard increased the drama by fouling off two outside changeups, the sixth and seventh pitches of the at- bat.

Lohse's next pitch was another changeup, but he left it up and over the plate, and Howard crushed it to right field for a 4-3 lead.

"It was big," Howard said. "Lohse came out and he was throwing very well, mixing it up. We just knew it was just a matter of time."

Lohse continued to fall apart. He gave up a single to Shane Victorino on an elevated sinker before hanging a changeup to Ibanez, who lined the pitch deep into the crowd in the right field stands.

"I missed with two changeups all night, and they both ended up for home runs, and it cost us," Lohse said. "I felt like I was on top of my game to that point."

Octavio Dotel came in to retire the next two batters, but the Phillies added three more runs in the seventh.

Consecutive singles by Halladay, Rollins and Utley off Marc Rzepczynski loaded the bases with nobody out. Mitchell Boggs entered and got a force out at home, but Howard followed with a sacrifice fly. Run-scoring singles by Victorino and Ibanez made it a 9-3 contest.

Pence singled in two more runs in the eighth, giving the Phillies an eight-run cushion for the final inning.

Some of the support was necessary. Facing Michael Stutes, the Cardinals put runners on the corners with one away before pinch-hitter Adron Chambers singled in a run. A base hit by Yadier Molina loaded the bases and forced Ryan Madson to come in from Philadelphia's bullpen.

Two runs scored when Skip Schumaker hit a ball to left field and a diving John Mayberry Jr. couldn't grab it, but Madson struck out the next two hitters to end the game.

Game Notes

Howard's homer was his first, and provided his first RBI, since the 2009 postseason...Berkman homered in his previous game against Halladay, on September 19...Lohse was making his first career playoff appearance since 2007, when he was with Philadelphia...The Cardinals are in the postseason for the first time since 2009, when they were swept by the Dodgers in the NLDS. They haven't won a playoff game since the World Series clincher in 2006...St. Louis won six of its nine meetings with the Phillies during the regular season.