PHILADELPHIA - Initially, out of the corner of his eye, Todd Helton thought the ball off the bat of the Phillies' Placido Polanco in the bottom of the ninth was headed for the outfield. Once Marco Scutaro fielded it behind second base, Helton believed that the Rockies shortstop was going to go for the out at second.
But neither of those things happened, and Helton found himself searching with his right foot for the first-base bag as Polanco crossed it. Polanco was safe, Hunter Pence scored and the Rockies fell to the Phillies, 7-6, on Wednesday for their 12th loss in their last 13 games.
"I should still be on the bag ready, and I wasn't," Helton said. "It's a pretty bad feeling when you're trying to find the bag and the ball's coming. It was a bad situation. I should've been on the bag and it should've been an out. So, it's my fault."
Moments earlier, it looked as if Colorado (25-42) was going to get a much-needed win. Dexter Fowler hit an RBI single in the top of the ninth inning to give the Rockies a 6-5 lead, and closer Rafael Betancourt retired Jim Thome and Jimmy Rollins to put himself one out away from his 11th save.
That's when the tide turned.
Betancourt gave up a single to Ty Wigginton and a double off the wall to Pence that scored Wigginton to tie the game at 6-6. He then intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz, before Shane Victorino beat out an infield single to keep the Phillies alive, load the bases and bring up Polanco.
On a 2-2 count, Betancourt threw a fastball and Polanco hit it up the middle. The game appeared to be over. But then first-base umpire Alfonso Marquez signaled safe and the Phillies celebrated.
"I thought I was out all the way," Polanco said. "But then when I was getting close to the bag I saw he was off the bag. I had a chance."
"My job is come in there and get three outs. Those guys battle for eight innings," Betancourt said. "It's hard for me to explain it, but I take [the blame for] that one because, after it's two outs, you can't let that happen. That can't happen right there."
In the top half of the inning, facing Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon in a 5-5 game, Wilin Rosario doubled and was brought home by Fowler's two-out single.
"We did everything that we could do to put ourselves in a situation to win the game," manager Jim Tracy said.
Asked if he had been a part of any tougher losses, Tracy said, "Not too many. I'll tell you that."
It was 95 degrees at the start of Wednesday's game, and for the first few innings, the ball was flying out of the park. The clubs combined for four home runs through four innings before the scoring settled down. Neither team scored after the fourth inning, until Fowler's single in the ninth.
The first homer of the night came off the bat of Rosario, who launched a three-run blast into the Phillies bullpen in center field to give the Rockies a 3-1 lead in the second inning. The 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic leads all Major League rookies with 10 home runs and 30 RBIs.
In the second, the Phillies' No. 8 hitter came back with a three-run shot of his own. Rockies starter Alex White threw a sinking fastball that Michael Martinez crushed into the seats in right-center field.
Michael Cuddyer knotted the game up in the next inning with a home run, his 11th of the season, and Chris Nelson hit a shot of his own to put the Rockies back ahead, 5-4.
The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the fourth on a Rollins RBI double.
White got through 3 2/3 innings before he reached his allotted 75 pitches for the night. With Tracy's new four-man rotation, which he implemented on Tuesday, each starter can only throw roughly 75 pitchers per outing.
White, pitching against the Phillies for the first time in his young career, was tagged with five runs on five hits with two walks and no strikeouts.
Jeremy Guthrie, the Rockies' Opening Day starter, pitched in a relief role for the first time this season and helped keep the game tied in the middle innings.
Guthrie, who was 3-6 with a 7.02 ERA as a starter this season, put together the longest scoreless relief outing of his career, as he didn't give up any hits and had two strikeouts in three innings of work, just one day after he was bumped from Tracy's rotation.
"Jeremy had three real good innings, innings like we saw early in the season," Tracy said. "Alex was just so-so. His command was erratic. They hit some balls off of him and put some runs on the board, and Jeremy came in behind him and settled the waters."
After another tough loss, the Rockies' attention turns toward Thursday, when they put Jeff Francis (0-1, 12.46) on the mound in hopes of winning the final game of the series.
"You just gotta come out and play hard again tomorrow," Helton said. "That's all you can do. It was a tough loss, there's no doubt about it. But there are gonna be more. It's just how you deal with them. We'll come out and play hard tomorrow, hope to get a win here, at least get one game here."
Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.