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Phillies Edge Rockies to Take Series Lead

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 Ryan Howard Chad Durbin  Chgase Utley  Carlos Ruiz

Phillies closer Brad Lidge survived a sticky ninth inning 2 walk, 1 stolen base 2 on, 2 out situation on Sunday by getting Colorado’s shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to fly out weakly to shallow leftfield to end the game.  The Phils had unknotted a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth against Rockies’ closer Huston Street on 1st baseman Ryan Howard’s sacrifice fly RBI.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins and 2nd baseman Chase Utley both singled putting runners at the corners with 1 out.  Centerfielder Shane Victorino’s sacrifice bunt was sandwiched in-between the 2 singles and advanced Rollins to 2nd base.  After Utley’s infield single moved Rollins to 3rd base, he scored the winning run on Howard’s sacrifice fly as the Phillies edged the Rockies by a 6-5 score to take a 2-1 lead in the division series.

After snow postponed game 3 on Saturday saving the Phillies from having to start Pedro Martinez due to the short-sighted, blunderous game 2 relief assignments as Charlie Manuel’s blew out his originally scheduled game 3 and 4 pitchers, it emerged that it didn’t seem to matter much as to lefthander or righthander in game 3 because the Rockies pounded rookie lefthander J.A. Happ for 2 runs in the first inning and another in the third to lead by 3-1 after 3 innings. However, the lefthanded presence on the mound early on apparently “neutralized the Rockies’ most potent lineup, sending third baseman Ian Stewart and Seth Smith to the bench.”  Smith went out pinch hitting later in the game.

Utley put the Phils up in the first with a 2 out solo shot to right centerfield. Utley went 3 for 4 for the game with 2 runs scored and an RBI.  The lead was short-lived as the first 2 Rockies hitters singled off of Happ in the first putting runners at the corners.  1st baseman Todd Helton’s fielders’ choice grounder scored a run and 3rd baseman Garrett Atkins‘ single to leftfield plated another and the Rockies had a 2-1 lead.  Atkins drove in the 3rd Rockies run with an RBI double off of Happ in the third.

The Phillies Nation blog provides a recap of the rest of the game with insertion of a comment for clarity:

Happ never looked comfortable in the cold, as he went just three innings, giving up three earned runs on five Rockies hits. He walked two. Joe Blanton would enter the game in the fourth inning and gave up one run to the Rockies in 2.2 innings.

Colorado led the Phillies 3-1 in the fourth and starter Jason Hammel had shut the Phillies down with the exception of Utley’s long-ball. Shane Victorino led the inning off with a walk and Utley followed with a single to right field. Ryan Howard followed Utley’s hit with a single of his own, scoring Victorino. After Jayson Werth walked to load the bases, Raul Ibanez drew his first walk of the evening, scoring Utley to tie the game at three.

After a Pedro Feliz double-play, with no outs, Carlos Ruiz gave the Phillies the lead with a single through the hole at short.

Phillies Nation continues:

Ruiz’s 2 out single chased Hammel who was replaced by Matt Belisle who got pinch hitter Greg Dobbs to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the fourth inning.

The Rockies would fight back and tie the game off of [Joe] Blanton before Ruiz played hero again with a single up the middle to score Raul Ibanez.

The Rockies would get the equalizer in the bottom half of the seventh off of Ryan Madson courtesy of a sacrifice fly. The run was charged to Scott Eyre who left the game after injuring what appeared to be his ankle while fielding a bunt from the Rockies  Dexter Fowler. There has been no word on the severity of the injury, however, Eyre was able to walk off on his own.

The game remained knotted at five until the top of the ninth. Jimmy Rollins, who had been 0-4 up to that point, worked a lead-off single. After being sacrificed to second on a Victorino bunt, Utley moved him to third on a swinging bunt single up the first base line. Replays later showed that the ball hit Utley in the batters box and should have been ruled a foul ball, however, Utley reached safely.

Ryan Howard then hit a long fly ball to center-field, scoring Rollins, giving the Phillies the 6-5 lead off of Rockies closer Houston Street.

Brad Lidge entered the game in the ninth and got the lead-off batter to ground out to second. The next batter Carlos Gonzalez then walked and swiped second base, putting the tying run in scoring position. Jason Giambi followed with a pop out to third and then Todd Helton drew the walk to put the winning run on base with superstar shortstop Troy Tulowitzki at the plate.

While those still awake in the Delaware Valley were chewing on copious amounts of antacids, Brad Lidge put the stomach acids at ease, forcing Tulowitzki to pop out to Ben Francisco [in leftfield] to end the game.

Reliever Chad Durbin, who pitched a clean eighth inning retiring the Rockies on 10 pitches, 3 groundballs, was credited with his first-ever post-season win while Huston Street was charged with the loss.  Lidge notched his 1st 2009 playoffs save.

For the scores of all playoff games on Friday through Sunday in both leagues,  click here, here and here.

In game 4, the game 1 starters are slated to oppose each other again as lefthander Cliff Lee faces Ubaldo Jimenez.  With a win, the Phillies would close out the Rockies and the division playoffs.  The downside of starting Lee in game 4 of this series is that he would then be unavailable to pitch again until game 3 of an NLCS playoff with the L.A. Dodgers. 

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