Once they were near equals. The Dodgers and Phillies met in the National League Championship Series in 2008 and 2009.
The Phillies used that platform to win a World Series, advance to another, return last year to the NLCS and, this season, jump out to the best record in baseball.
The Dodgers? They've sort of gone in another direction. Like the polar opposite.
The difference in how the teams have developed was on display Monday, the Phillies downing the Dodgers, 5-3, before an announced crowd of 35,380, many of whom wore red.
For the Phillies, this made it 10 victories in 11 games, took their record to 75-40 and kept their lead at a comfy 8½ games over Atlanta in the NL East.
The Dodgers fell to 52-62 and remained 10 back of the Giants in the NL West.
Steve Dilbeck and The Times' Dodgers reporters
give you all the news on the boys in blue
Nothing like a first time. First time driving a car, first kiss, first game in the majors.
OK, so most will never step on a major league field. For a precious chosen few, though, it’s the memory of a lifetime.
Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, all of 21 and fresh up from double-A Chattanooga, made his debut Saturday night against Arizona.
And if it wasn’t completely perfect, it was close enough, with Eovaldi going five innings to pick up the victory in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks.
A night that gave the Dodgers another scare when rookie shortstop Dee Gordon left the game with an injured shoulder (it is not serious) and saw catcher Rod Barajas collect three hits and drive in two runs, it was the fresh-faced Eovaldi who created the buzz.
Eovaldi was rushed to the majors when another prized right-hander from Chattanooga, Rubby De La Rosa, was lost to the Dodgers for the season with an elbow injury.
So the call went to the young Eovaldi, and he responded. He overcame one shaky inning to hold the Diamondbacks to two runs. For one night, he looked a lot like a pitcher who belonged.
Welcome to the Dodgers' new world -- spoilers.
It appears to be their road for the next two months, and they at least looked up to the challenge Friday in a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The surprising Diamondbacks came into the game trailing the division-leading Giants in the National League West by only a half a game; the Dodgers were 11 back.
But the Dodgers exploded for a six-run third inning and received six-plus solid innings from right-hander Chad Billingsley to frustrate the Diamondbacks.
The first time the Dodgers faced Arizona right-hander Josh Collmenter, they didn’t have a chance. He shut them out for six innings, allowing only two hits, in an eventual 1-0 victory for the Diamondbacks.
Safe to say, they’ve figured him out in the two games they’ve seen him since.
The locker was empty, save for a lone bat, a pair of sandals and two bottles of lotion. The nameplate above the cubicle had been removed.
Rafael Furcal was gone into the night.
Gone without a goodbye, gone without any explanation, not that any had to be given.
Furcal has reportedly accepted a trade to the St. Louis Cardinals. The 33-year-old, who had been the Dodgers' primary shortstop for the last six years, packed up and left during the Dodgers’ game Saturday night against the Diamondbacks without a final farewell to teammates.
He had been coy with reporters before the game, not saying whether as a player with 10 years of major league service, including five with the same team, he would approve a trade. He did promise, if jokingly, to talk to the media after the game.
But an emotional man, he elected to avoid the goodbyes and by the middle of the game had carried his bag out of the clubhouse and left Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers career of Furcal was over.
"He’s definitely going to be missed," said Matt Kemp. "He was one of my favorite teammates.
"He played the game the right way. When he was healthy, he was dangerous."
The catch with Furcal, of course, was his being healthy. When he was he was a true catalyst, a leadoff hitter who made the Dodgers go. A terrific all-around player.
On a night the Dodgers learned right-hander Hiroki Kuroda would not approve a trade and that shortstop Rafael Furcal reportedly would, they jumped to a 4-1 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
And then watched it all come crashing down in a forgettable sixth-inning meltdown by Chad Billingsley, the Diamondbacks rallying for five runs to hand the Dodgers a 6-4 defeat Saturday before an announced crowd of 37,139.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases against Billingsley (9-9) in the sixth on a single and a pair of walks, then he walked a third consecutive batter to force in a run.
Xavier Nady’s fly to right brought in a second run, but one out later Billingsley walked his fourth batter of the inning to load the bases again.
At that point the Dodgers called on reliever Matt Guerrier to face red-hot Justin Upton, who promptly doubled past Matt Kemp in center field to clear the bases.
The Diamondbacks had erased the three-run deficit to take the 6-4 lead.
Billingsley was charged with all six runs, giviing up seven hits and five walks in his 5 2/3 innings.
The Dodgers had fallen behind 1-0 when they scored three times in the third inning. Tony Gwynn Jr. tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Casey Blake.
Blake -- who has been on the disabled list three times this season -- was 3 for 4 with a double, two runs and a run batted in with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Friday night. Blake played in only one other minor-league game to prepare for his activation.
Uribe, who has missed the last five games with a strained groin, is batting .204 with four home runs.
-- Dylan Hernandez
Photo credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire
You're traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound but … without Matt Kemp.
Oh, no, not that! Anything but that. Too frightening even for Rod Serling.
The Dodgers are ranked 27th in the majors in runs scored. Now imagine them without Kemp.
"Don’t make me think bad thoughts," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. "We just won a game."
A game won, 9-5, over the Diamondbacks Friday, thanks in no small part to Kemp driving in five runs. He now leads the National League with 80 RBI.
It has been a completely different Kemp from 2010. This Kemp is in shape, focused at the plate and on the field. This Kemp plays with a desire too often lacking last season. This Kemp is putting up MVP numbers.
"I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew what he was capable of," Mattingly said. "He came to me and said, 'Last year is not going to happen again.' "
Kemp worked hard in the offseason, lost weight and came to spring intent on putting the previous season behind him.
"It was a disappointing year on the field for me and I didn’t want it to repeat that," Kemp said. "I promised [Mattingly] I would do my best not to let that happen again."
It certainly hasn’t this season. Kemp has been a lonely weapon for the Dodgers. Not that Mattingly has considered where his team would be without him.
"I wonder more about if we had him and Dre [Andre Ethier] kinda doing their thing, Casey [Blake] is healthy, Fuky [Rafael Furcal] is healthy all year and Juan [Uribe] is having the kind of year he’s capable of," Mattingly said.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp reacts after hitting a two-run single against Arizona on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times
You know, if at first you don't succeed ...
Casey Blake is on at least his third "try again" as he attempts to battle back from injury.
Blake is on the disabled list for the third time this season -- this time with a cervical strain -- but is scheduled to start his latest comeback tonight as a designated hitter for the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes in Lake Elsinore.
Blake, who turns 38 next month, started the season on the DL with back problems. He returned to play only 14 games before going back on the DL with a staff infection in his elbow that required surgery.
On July 3, he returned to the DL with the neck injury. He's suffered several setbacks trying to put his latest injury behind him.
"I'm about as frustrated as I've been as a player," Blake said two weeks ago.
Blake has appeared in only 44 games thus far for the Dodgers.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Casey Blake. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire
Once there was a dream. Maybe not the grandest of dreams, but one nonetheless.
The Dodgers went into the season planning on having a starting infield of first baseman James Loney, second baseman Juan Uribe, third baseman Casey Blake and shortstop Rafael Furcal.
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and general managers …
These four guys wouldn’t know how to find each other on the field. Furcal and Blake have been a tag team on and off the disabled list all season. Uribe had his own stint on the disabled list with a left hip flexor strain, re-injured it Saturday and was unable to start Sunday.
"I know there hasn’t been very many where everybody was in there together where we had what we thought would be our starting infield," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
Try two games.
The Dodgers had played 100 games on the season entering Sunday’s game, and their projected starting infield had started together exactly two times all season, both back in early April.
Right, that was the problem. The hitting coach. No possibility it was just lousy players.
No matter. In an oddly timed move, the Dodgers fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland on Wednesday morning, just a couple hours before their afternoon game in San Francisco.
They named Dave Hansen as interim hitting coach. Previously Hansen served as Pentland’s assistant, with the title of hitting instructor. Which was the same title Pentland had the previous three seasons, serving as Don Mattingly’s aide.
Now there’s little doubt the Dodgers are a miserable hitting team. In Major League Baseball they rank 27th in runs, 26th in slugging percentage (.361), 22nd in home runs and 17th in batting average (.250).