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PHILS TO GO FOR BACK-TO-BACK

A Game 5 rout gives Philadelphia a chance to defend its title.

These are the Phillies, right? The franchise known for losing more than any other is now four wins from another World Series championship.

After winning one title, and losing a pro sports-most 10,028 times, in their first 125 years, the Phillies - who, obligatory bad memory reference, beat the Rays last year - will look to make it two straight, starting Wednesday on the road against either the Yankees, who can complete the pairing tonight, or Angels.

The Phillies earned their way back with a relatively easy five-game dismissal of a Dodgers team that had the best record in the National League, capped by Wednesday's 10-4 win.

The Phillies are the first team to win consecutive NL pennants since the 1995-96-97 Braves and are seeking to become the first NL team to repeat as Series champs since the 1975-76 Reds. (AL teams have repeated four times since then.)

The Phillies won Wednesday by flexing their muscles, Jayson Werth hitting two home runs and Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino one each. And they won in spite of a so-so start from Cole Hamels, who hasn't been the postseason ace he was against the Rays, failing to get through the fifth despite an early 6-2 lead.

But their much-maligned bullpen managed to get the final 14 outs, with Victorino providing much-needed cushion, his two-out homer in the sixth extending the margin from 6-3 to 8-3.

The Dodgers couldn't do much to mount an offense, as was the case much of the series, hitting three solo homers.

They had, essentially, two key chances.

In the sixth, down 6-3, with two on, two out and Hamels out of the game, Manny Ramirez managed only a check-swing roller against Chad Durbin for an easy out.

And in the eighth, after loading the bases with no outs down 9-3, they got only one run, on a Matt Kemp single, before Ryan Madson got James Loney to pop up, Russell Martin to strike out and, in a nine-pitch battle, Casey Blake to ground into a fielder's choice.

Citizens Bank Park was set for a party, with the sellout crowd of 46,214 roaring from the start - of Hamels' pregame warmup - and keeping it up throughout the night, waving white towels.

The stadium PA crew was in on it, too, playing the All-American Rejects' It Ends Tonight during Dodgers batting practice, then for the opening the Black Eyed Peas hit with the lyrics "I gotta feeling that tonight's gonna be a good night."

Less subtly, they also had Dallas Green, who managed the 1980 Phillies to the World Series, throw out the first pitch on what just happened to be the 29th anniversary of the clinching game at the old stadium that used to stand next door.

Philadelphia police officials were braced for overzealous celebrations, mindful of the mayhem that took place after last year's World Series win. A sports apparel chain advertised it would be open all night, presumably to sell freshly made Series merchandise.

Andre Ethier gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, but the Phillies responded quickly to take control against struggling Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard walked on nine pitches, then Werth hit a three-run homer to right.

Loney led off the Dodger second with a homer, and the Phils answered again, as Feliz went deep and Raul Ibanez doubled in Werth, ending Padilla's night. The Phillies loaded the bases and, with Dodgers manager Joe Torre going to usual eighth-inning setup man George Sherrill in the fourth, added another run when Victorino was hit by a pitch.

Pinch-hitter Orlando Hudson delivered the third Dodgers homer in the fifth, and after a hard double by Rafael Furcal, Hamels was done. That sliced the margin to 6-3, but the Dodgers got no closer.

Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@sptimes.com.

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