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Utley's RBI triple puts Phils up early

ST. LOUIS -- Jimmy Rollins stood on a step in front of his locker and discussed the reality of the situation.

The Phillies, who entered the 2011 season with World Series championship expectations, boarded a flight to Philadelphia late Wednesday night following a 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. The teams will play a decisive Game 5 on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park. If the Phils win, they will advance to their fourth consecutive NL Championship Series and keep the dream alive. If they lose, it will be one of the biggest disappointments in Philadelphia sports history.

No pressure, right?

"It's a pressure situation," Rollins said, not shying away from the moment. "This is what we play for. This is also what we get paid for. And that's to play in these situations. I don't think anyone in here is afraid of it. When you have to sit there and think about it for a day, that's when you can get a little tight. We have tonight to think about it and tomorrow to clear our minds to get ready for Friday. Everyone in this clubhouse is looking forward to it."

The Phillies have their ace of the aces on the mound in Game 5 in Roy Halladay.

That should help.

"You get your big boy on the bump," Rollins said. "This was the reason why he was brought here, when you have games like this, for him to come out and be the man. Be Doc. Go out there and perform a little surgery."

Philadelphia hoped to save Halladay for Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday, but that no longer is possible. Right-hander Roy Oswalt allowed six hits, five runs, one walk and one home run in six innings Wednesday. The offense needed just five pitches to score two runs in the first inning against Cards right-hander Edwin Jackson, but he retired 17 of the final 20 batters he faced as the Phils continued a recent trend of hibernating for extended stretches.

Manager Charlie Manuel sees his hitters swinging too hard, looking overanxious at the plate.

"I know I am," said Ryan Howard, who is hitless with six strikeouts in his last 11 at-bats. "I know I feel like I've kind of been jumping out trying to get pitches, instead of just letting them come to me. I think for me, I just need to be a little more patient and just sit back a little bit. It's a little bit easier said than done, but I've got to find a way."

Oswalt allowed a run in the first inning. In the fourth, he walked Lance Berkman and hit Matt Holliday with a pitch before David Freese doubled into the left-field corner to score both runners to hand the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

Freese got Oswalt one more time in the sixth when he crushed a two-run home run to center field to make it 5-2.

"Two pitches, I guess," Oswalt said. "I don't know. I thought I had pretty good stuff. I gave up [six] hits. All you can do is throw strikes and try to mix all your pitches, and for the most part, I did."

The highly touted Phillies rotation has a pedestrian 4.50 ERA after the first four games of the series. Philadelphia's offense, which led the NL in scoring with 4.8 runs per game from July 1 through the end of the regular season, has hit just .206 in the last three games.

If those numbers don't change, the Phils will probably be packing their bags for the winter.

The Phillies have played the final game in a five- or seven-game series just twice in their history: the 1981 NLDS against the Montreal Expos, which they lost in five games, and the 1980 NLCS against Houston Astros, which they won in five games.

The home team in a deciding Game 5 in Division Series play is 8-9 overall, and 2-4 in the NL.

Rollins isn't nervous.

"I'm definitely enjoying it," he said. "This is fun. This is definitely what playoff baseball is about. A couple weeks ago, Charlie said in New York, 'To be the best, you've got to beat the best.' In my opinon, besides us, I feel they're probably the best team in the National League playing right now."

No pressure, right?

"I don't feel pressure on our end," Chase Utley said.

"The pressure is back on them," Oswalt insisted. Comments