But just because Ibanez does not believe in such things does not mean they do not exist. He helped the Phillies take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series when he hit a three-run home run to right field in the eighth inning against Dodgers left-hander George Sherrill, giving the Phils a four-run lead.
Ibanez's home run against Sherrill -- the first homer Sherrill had allowed against a left-hander since June 14, 2008 -- put the Phillies in a strong position entering Game 2 on Friday at 4:07 p.m. ET on TBS and Postseason.TV.
Since the NLCS moved to a seven-game format in 1985, the team taking a 1-0 lead has won 16 of 23 series, including 14 of the previous 16. Eight of the 10 National League teams that took a 1-0 lead on the road have reached the World Series, including the past seven.
"It's a nice way to start," Ibanez said. "It's definitely a nice way to start. And at the same time, you've got to refocus and understand that they're coming for you again tomorrow and you're coming for them and you've got to try to get it done again tomorrow."
The Dodgers certainly kept coming at the Phillies on Thursday, but Philadelphia kept coming back in a game that had numerous anxious moments.
The Phils looked to be in complete control in the fifth when they took a 5-1 lead. Carlos Ruiz hit a three-run home run to left field against Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw to make it 3-1. Ruiz, a career .246 hitter in the regular season, has hit .354 (17-for-48) with three doubles, two home runs, 10 RBIs and eight walks in his past 15 postseason games.
"He likes the bright lights," Ryan Howard said.
And does Howard like the bright lights?
"I wear shades," he joked.
UP ONE AND AWAY
|2007||COL||ARI||in 4||Lost to BOS|
|2003||FLA||CHC||in 7||Beat NYY|
|2002||SF||STL||in 5||Lost to LAA|
|2000||NYM||STL||in 5||Lost to NYY|
|1998||SD||ATL||in 6||Lost to NYY|
|1997||FLA||ATL||in 6||Beat CLE|
|1995||ATL||CIN||in 4||Beat CLE|
But Howard has come up big in October. Kershaw had two on with two outs in the fifth when Howard smacked a two-run double to right field to give the Phillies a 5-1 lead. It was Howard's 17th and 18th RBIs in the postseason, which set a club postseason record. Howard has 18 RBIs in 22 postseason games. Mike Schmidt had 16 RBIs in 32 postseason games.
Howard has hit .365 (19-for-52) with three homers and 16 RBIs in his past 11 postseason games.
A four-run lead looked like it might be enough for left-hander Cole Hamels, who had retired eight of his last nine batters before Russell Martin hit a leadoff double in the fifth.
Rafael Furcal hit a one-out single to right to put runners at the corners. Andre Ethier then got jammed and hit a ball toward shortstop Jimmy Rollins. The ball died on Rollins, who couldn't get the ball cleanly out of his glove. He got the ball to Chase Utley at second, but Utley threw wildly into the Phillies dugout to allow Martin to score and Ethier to move to second.
"A clean hit ball, you obviously want to turn it," Rollins said. "The jammed ones? Sometimes they can get a little tricky."
Hamels threw up his arms as the ball sailed into the dugout.
It rattled him. Manny Ramirez followed and hit a 2-0 changeup to left-center field for a two-run home run to cut the Phillies lead to 5-4.
"It's tough because you're battling," Hamels said. "I make the right pitch to Ethier. I got exactly what I wanted and unfortunately the results didn't happen. It takes a lot out of you because these guys are very tough hitters, so when you do get them in a situation where you can seal the deal, it takes a lot to really get through that. I really thought we had that. It's the process I've had to go through all year -- learning how to deal with my emotions and learning to control them and forgetting about what just happened."
Hamels went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts last year. He is 1-1 with a 6.97 ERA in two starts this postseason.
"You have to battle to the end," Hamels said of his recent performances.
Oh, the Phillies battled.
Manuel pulled Hamels in the sixth when he put runners on first and second with one out. It started a matchup game against Dodgers manager Joe Torre as the Phillies used six relief pitchers to get their final 11 outs.
Enter right-hander Chan Ho Park.
Park had not pitched since Sept. 16 because of a strained right hamstring and had just replaced right-hander Brett Myers on the NLCS roster. But Park dazzled. He got Ramirez to ground out to Pedro Feliz to keep Ethier at second. He struck out Matt Kemp and got Casey Blake to ground out to Utley to end the inning.
It was the pitching performance of the night.
"I thought he was outstanding," pitching coach Rich Dubee said.
"I only pitched one inning," Park joked as reporters approached him in the clubhouse. "I made first-pitch strikes, which were huge. I jammed Manny for the first out. I pitched a lot better than I felt. I didn't feel well for the last month, and this was my first time facing hitters. It's all about the challenge. I'm glad I helped them win the game."
Ibanez hit his homer against Sherrill in the eighth to make it 8-4 -- "Yeah, I think that was a shock for everybody," Torre said -- but right-hander Ryan Madson struggled in the eighth, allowing four hits and two runs to make the ninth a little closer than it needed to be for Brad Lidge.
But Lidge converted his third consecutive save this postseason to end the game.
"It was a very hard fought game on both sides," Lidge said. "I think you're seeing how good this series is going to be."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.