|Ryan Howard, who homered in the sixth, was left with the bat in his hand after getting called out on strikes to end the game. (RAY STUBBLEBINE/REUTERS)|
Relentless Rockies have Phillies on brink
PHILADELPHIA - Done chasing that wild-card spot, Kaz Matsui and the relentless Colorado Rockies are playing like champs.
Matsui hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs, leading the Rockies over the Philadelphia Phillies, 10-5, yesterday for a 2-0 lead in their NL Division Series.
A day after taking a pitchers' duel, Colorado outslugged the Phillies and got a big effort from its bullpen. With 16 victories in 17 games, the Rockies are winning every which way.
"We believe we're going to win every game," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've been playing in the losers' bracket for a month."
Matsui connected off Kyle Lohse, rushed in to relieve struggling rookie Kyle Kendrick in the fourth inning.
Lohse was the Phillies' scheduled Game 4 starter. At this rate, the best-of-five series might not get that far.
Rookie Ubaldo Jimenez will try to pitch Colorado to a sweep tomorrow night at Coors Field against veteran Jamie Moyer.
Matsui fell a single short of the cycle, and Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday homered on consecutive pitches in the first inning off Kendrick, who got a quick hook from manager Charlie Manuel.
The Phillies had a chance to make it interesting in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. But closer Manny Corpas came in and retired Carlos Ruiz. Corpas worked around a pair of two-out singles in a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many days.
Jimmy Rollins homered and drove in four runs and Ryan Howard also went deep for Philadelphia, which ended a 14-year playoff drought by capturing the NL East title on the final day of the season.
But it has been downhill for the Phillies since they followed a wild celebration Sunday with a pep rally at City Hall the next day.
The heavily criticized Manuel gave his critics plenty of ammunition with two questionable moves.
With the Phillies leading, 3-2, in the fourth, Manuel pulled Kendrick after pinch hitter Seth Smith's infield single loaded the bases with two outs.
Manuel called on Lohse, who made two relief appearances on side days down the stretch. Lohse got ahead, 1 and 2, on Matsui before grooving a fastball. Matsui drove it into the right-field seats to give the Rockies a 6-3 lead and silence the largest crowd at four-year-old Citizens Bank Park.
"Lohse has been pitching really good out of the bullpen, he has good stuff, and I felt he was the right guy," Manuel said.
A total of 45,991 came out, waved their rally towels, and cheered wildly despite the score - somewhat out of character for the notoriously tough Philly boobirds. But they gave Jose Mesa an earful when the reliever struggled in the sixth. Mesa walked his first two batters and gave up a two-run double to Yorvit Torrealba. Clay Condrey entered one out later and surrendered an RBI triple to Matsui and an RBI single to Holliday that made it 10-3.
Rockies rookie Franklin Morales lasted just three innings, giving up three runs and three hits in his ninth career start. The 21-year-old Venezuelan earned his first win in Philly Sept. 11.
Josh Fogg relieved the hard-throwing lefty and pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win in his second relief appearance this season. Fogg started Monday when Colorado beat San Diego in 13 innings in the wild-card tiebreaker.
"They had that big inning and there wasn't any looking back," Howard said. "We need to have short memories right now."