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Phillies clinch NLCS

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PHILADELPHIA -- (10/22/09) -- The Philadelphia Phillies swatted four home runs in their clinching 10-4 rout of the L.A. Dodgers that closed out the National League Championship Series in five games Wednesday night.

That gives the Phillies a chance for back-to-back World Series titles.

Jayson Werth hit an opposite field three-run home run in the first inning and added a solo shot in the seventh. Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino also went deep.

Werth got the Phils off to a fast start when he connected on his three-run shot in the first inning off Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla, who didn't make it out of the fourth inning. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard walked before Werth sent the Citizens Bank Park crowd into a tizzy with his long home run. Utley tied a postseason record by reaching base in 25 straight games.

Andre Ethier, James Loney and pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson hit solo homers off Phils starter Cole Hamels, who lasted four and a-third innings. J.A. Happ, Chad Durbin, Chan Ho Park and Ryan Madson pitched three and two-thirds innings of one-run relief for the Phils. After closer Brad Lidge retired the Dodgers in order in the ninth, the Phils began their champagne-filled celebration.

Ryan Howard was named Most Valuable Player of the NLCS, after batting .333 with two home runs and eight RBIs in the five-game series.

He had at least one RBI in eight straight playoff games in a streak that ended in Game 5. Howard tied the major league record first set by Lou Gehrig more than seven decades ago.

As a fan at Citizens Bank Park raised a sign that declared Howard "The New Mr. October," Howard promised the fans there was "one more step" for the Phillies to take.

That would be winning a second straight World Series. No NL team has won back-to-back World Series since the Cincinnati Reds of 1975-76. The Phils are the first team to reach back-to-back World Series since the New York Yankees in 2000-01.

Now, Howard and the Phils wait for their next opponent. They'll go for their third World Series title beginning next Wednesday night at New York or Los Angeles.

After an off day, the Yankees will try to close out the Angels with a Game 5 win in the American League Championship Series tonight at Angel Stadium.

New York has a commanding 3-games-to-1 advantage following Tuesday night's 10-1 victory in Anaheim.

The Yanks will send out A.J. Burnett against John Lackey. A Yankee victory would mean their 40th American League pennant.


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