Brad Penny started and was hammered for six runs, including three home runs, in the first two innings but the general feeling was relief, not dread.
The big righthander didn't break 90 on his last start and since Jason Schmidt's troubles began that way all those month's ago, some wondered about Penny's recovery.
But that wasn't the case. Penny threw in the mid-90s but his location was what you might expect for a pitcher who has just come off eight weeks on the disabled list. That suggests that there isn't any sort of physical problem.
But after two innings the Dodgers were looking down a long, dark road in their attempt to come back against the N.L. East Division leader.
But that is just what they did.
After Ryan Howard smacked his Major League-leading 33rd homer and Greg Dobbs hit his fifth in the first inning and Jayson Werth hit another two-run shot in the second, Philadelphia led 6-1.
Jason Loney had worked a bases-loaded walk to drive in a run in the bottom of the first but the Dodgers left three on base.
Penny worked a scoreless third inning before leaving for a pinch-hitter. He allowed six hits and six runs, and his ERA swelled to 6.05.
From that point on, a posse of relievers galloped in from the bullpen and limited the slugging Phillies only one hit over the final six innings.
In the third inning Manny Ramirez, his dreadlocks not only uncut, but braided with red, blue and yellow thread, slugged a home run, his fifth, with Jeff Kent on base to cut the deficit to 6-3 after three innings.
Ethier ran his homer total to an even dozen with a shot into the right field seats in the fourth and L.A. trailed by two.
Kent's fourth hit, a two-run double in the eighth, scored pinch-hitter Juan Pierre and Russell Martin to tie the score.
Then with one out in the last of the ninth, Garciaparra, playing in only his 29th game of the season, drove a 2-1 pitch into left field to set off a wild celebration at home plate and Garciaparra's teammates hoisted him off the ground after he crossed home plate.
"I'm was just trying to drive the ball," said Garciaparra, playing in his second game after coming off the disabled list. "In that situation, to drive it and hit a guy in the bullpen, that's good.""
It was the third straight win over Philadelphia and fifth in seven games overall, and the Dodgers moved into a first-place tie with Arizona in the NL West. The Phillies, who have lost five straight to the Dodgers, dropped into a first-place tie with the Mets in the East.
"This is huge," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "If this doesn't help our confidence, I don't know what will. I've got to hand it to our bullpen, they came in and did a tremendous job," he said.
Ramirez is an amazing 21-for-45 (.467) with five homers and 16 RBIs in 12 games since being acquired July 31 from Boston. Kent had a season-high four hits and is 13-for-26 (.500) in seven games since being moved to the No. 3 spot in the order. Russell Martin, who has hit .220 the last six weeks was 3-for-3 to break a 1-for-16 slump and he added his first extra base hit in the last 15 games.
Torre seemed unfazed by Penny's performance and said, "We'll see how he feels, but at this point in time, he is our guy five days from now." That would be against against Colorado, because the Dodgers are off on Monday.
The Dodgers go to 61-59, the first time the club has been two games over .500 since they were 26-24 after losing to the Cubs on May 26, and they pulled even with Arizona.
In the final game of the four-game set with Philadelphia, Hiroki Kuroda faces Brett Myers.
Kuroda (6-8, 4.02 ERA), after a terrible start after the all-star break, is coming off solid back-to-back strong games. In his last start, he allowed the Giants one run in eight innings.
Myers (5-9, 5.09 ERA) has recorded a 2-0 record with a 2.10 ERA since a minor league rehab start. In nine career starts against the Dodgers, he is 3-1 with a 2.76 ERA.
All in all, it was one of those remarkable games that you might look back upon and say, "the whole thing turned around right here."
Then again, with a few games over 40 left in the wacky N.L. West race, who knows.
Score by innings Philadelphia 420 000 000-6 Los Angeles 102 100 21x-7 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Kemp cf 5 0 0 0 .299 Ethier rf 5 2 2 1 .276 Kent 2b 5 1 4 2 .273 Ozuna pr-2b 0 0 0 0 .000 Ramirez lf 3 1 1 2 .467 Broxton p 0 0 0 0 .000 Loney 1b 4 0 1 1 .295 Blake 3b 5 0 0 0 .275 Garciaparra ss 5 1 1 1 .266 Martin c 3 1 3 0 .289 Penny p 1 0 0 0 .192 Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 .125 Johnson p 1 0 0 0 .000 Beimel p 0 0 0 0 .000 Park p 0 0 0 0 .111 Pierre ph-lf 0 1 0 0 .279 Totals 38 7 12 7 Philadelphia 33 6 7 6 2b hits- Martin (20), Kent (22). HR- Ramirez (5), Ethier (12), Garciaparra (6). RBI- Loney (68), Ramirez 2 (16), Ethier (49), Garciaparra (20). LOB- Los Angeles 11, Philadelphia 9. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Penny 3.0 6 6-6 2 4 6.05 Johnson 2.2 1 0-0 2 5 3.10 Beimel 0.0 0 0-0 1 0 1.87 Park 2.1 0 0-0 1 1 2.62 Broxton (3-3) 1.0 0 0-0 0 2 3.58 HBP- by Penny, by Beimel. T- 3:08. Att- 45. 786.Dodger Blue Notes-- Los Angeles hopes Andruw Jones (left knee) will get 40-50 at-bats for Las Vegas during his upcoming Minor League rehab stint ... The Dodgers and Phillies each hit three homers on Wednesday, the most homers two teams have combined for at Dodger Stadium all season. ... The U.S. Olympic team lost to South Korea on Wednesday, 8-7, but both Dodgers farmhands played well. Terry Tiffee went 2-for-4 with an RBI and Mike Koplove threw 1.2 perfect innings. The Americans play the Netherlands on today. ... The Urban Youth Academy's high school All-Star team was introduced on the field before Wednesday's game. The club is headed to Japan on Friday to play a game against a Japanese high school All-Star team.