Phillies ace lefthander Cliff Lee and Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez put on a classic pitching duel for 7 innings with the only scores coming on solo blasts by centerfielder Shane Victorino and rightfielder Jayson Werth and a sixth inning RBI double by Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. But after an eighth inning leadoff walk and an errant fielder’s choice grounder left runners at 1st and 2nd base, Lee was pulled for Ryan Madson and 3 Rockies subsequently scored as Colorado took a 4-2 lead. Unfazed, the Phils came back with 3 runs of their own in the ninth before lefthander Scott Eyre came on to get the 1st two outs in the Rockies’ ninth while giving up 2 hits. Closer Brad Lidge came on to strike out Tulowitzki on 5 pitches to nail down the win as the Phillies nipped the Rockies by a 5-4 score on a 9th inning rally to win their division series by 3 games to 1.
With the other division playoff winners having been decided, on Monday, the Phillies and Rockies were the only two teams still contesting.
With 1 out in the first inning, Victorino nailed a blazing 99 mph Jimenez fastball out to rightfield to put the Phils up by 1-0. Meanwhile, after giving up first inning hits to the 1st two Rockies hitters, throwing a wild pitch and facing a 2nd and 3rd base situation with 1 out, Lee struck out Tulowitzki and got 3rd baseman Garrett Atkins to ground out to end the inning. The lefthander than settled down to go clean on the Rox in the second inning and follow a 1 out walk with an inning-ending doubleplay in the third.
The Phils threatened on two 1 out singles in the third but Jimenez fanned Werth and leftfielder Raul Ibanez to evade trouble.
Jimenez retired the next 6 Phils in order in the fourth and fifth innings while Lee went clean on Colorado in the fourth and gave up 2 singles in the fifth. Lee escaped unscathed on a strikeout and 2 fly outs to left and rightfield.
In the sixth, after 1st baseman Ryan Howard led off by grounding out, Werth belted his 2nd homer of the playoffs — a solo shot to put the Phils’ lead at 2-0. Tulowitzki got the run back for the Rockies in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI double. Both teams had scoring chances in the seventh inning but both came away empty.
Lefthanded reliever Franklin Morales relieved Jimenez to open the Phillies’ eighth inning. 2nd baseman Chase Utley led off with a walk and stole 2nd base. After Howard struck out, Werth was intentionally walked and Morales walked Ibanez to load the sacks. But Morales got 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz to foul out while catcher Carlos Ruiz grounded to shortstop to end the inning leaving the sacks loaded.
This brings us to the Rockies eighth inning, where a leadoff walk by Lee and centerfielder Dexter Fowler’s hurdle over 2nd baseman Utley on 1st baseman Todd Helton’s fielder’s choice grounder led to a Phillies error putting runners at 1st and 2nd base. Lee was then pulled for Ryan Madson. AP sports reporter Arnie Stapleton recaps what happened next in the eighth as well as the climactic top and bottom of the ninth inning for Yahoo sports:
Jimenez… seven strong innings that included seven strikeouts and six hits. He left trailing 2-1 after throwing 126 pitches, one shy of his career high.
Lee, who pitched a six-hitter to win the series opener, allowed three runs— one earned—and five hits in 7 1-3 innings. He repeatedly worked out of jams until the eighth.
That put two on for Tulowitzki, and… Madson relieved… Lee in a double-switch that also brought in left fielder Ben Francisco to replace Raul Ibanez.
It paid an immediate dividend when Francisco raced in and made a diving catch of Tulowitzki’s bloop to left for the second out.
“No one got rattled and no one was worried,” Werth said. “Going back to ’07, we got swept by the Rockies and I think everybody learned a lesson. Everybody knew what we had to do.”
With a crowd just shy of 50,000 going crazy, the Phillies bounced right back.
Rockies closer Huston Street entered in the ninth trying protect the Rockies 4-2 lead to bring about a decisive 5th game of the series.
AP’s Stapleton continues:
Street was 35 of 37 on save chances this season, but took the loss in Game 3 when he allowed Howard’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth.
“We had gotten to Huston Street the night before, so we knew we had a shot to make some things happen,” Howard said.
Colorado had lost just once all season when leading after eight innings, and Street started the ninth with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs.
Jimmy Rollins singled with one out and Utley drew a two-out walk on a full count. Howard tied it with two strikes when he doubled to the right-field wall. Werth followed with a soft single to right-center.
“We were a strike away from making a trip to Philadelphia,” lamented Rockies manager Jim Tracy.
Scott Eyre replaced Madson for the ninth inning and gave up 2 hits while recording the 1st two outs. With runners on 1st and 2nd base, Eyre was replaced by Lidge who made short work of emerging superstar shortstop Tulowitzki striking him out swinging to close out the Rockies’ season and earn his 2nd 2009 playoff save. Neither starter figured in the final decision despite a pitching duel for the ages. Madson was credited with the win after blowing his 2nd save opportunity of the series. Street weas charged with a blown save and his 2nd loss of the playoffs.
Having won the Division series by 3 games to 1, the Phils get 2 days off to prepare for the NLCS opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Thursday.