Chase is on: Utley, Phillies gain on Braves
Nine-run seventh downs Rockies, closes gap to two in NL East
DENVER -- With both the Phillies and Rockies coming from the West Coast for a single makeup game, the visiting team made the hosts feel quite unwelcome.
The Phillies victimized the Rockies with a nine-run rally in the seventh to take the lead in a big game that was packed with all the drama of a three-game set. The game featured 35 hits, 23 runs, six homers, three hit batsmen, two key errors, an ejection, and a grand slam before Philadelphia claimed a 12-11 victory.
"It felt like it had extreme, urgent importance because of how the game was played," said Brad Lidge, who earned his 19th save with a nail-biter of a ninth. "It was a lot of fun to watch our guys come back and to continue to hit against a team that also decided to continue to hit. In the end, we were the last ones standing. It shows the character of our guys."
Determined to get more than frequent-flier miles out of the one-day trip, the Phillies staged the kind of comeback the Rockies became famous for at Coors Field. Down by four in the top of the seventh, Placido Polanco laced a leadoff double to left to ignite a nine-run rally on nine hits, respectively matching and setting Phillies season highs and seizing a five-run lead.
The frame featured back-to-back homers from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth and was capped by a Chase Utley grand slam -- who matched his career high with six RBIs and set a personal best with five in a single inning.
"I imagine there are a lot of guys that have driven in a lot of runs here," Utley said. "There's a lot of room for hits. The ball carries extremely well here. You put those two together, you're going to have some success."
For manager Charlie Manuel, it reminded him of his days managing the Rockies' Triple-A affiliate 70 miles down the road in the Pacific Coast League.
"That's Colorado Springs baseball right there," Manuel said. "It was a heck of a game. One thing about playing out here, it's hard to stop momentum in a game. When a team starts getting hits, they can put some runs up on you. Tonight brought back memories of my old Coast days. It was good. Especially when you win."
The Phillies hadn't scored nine runs in an inning in four months, dating back to May 2 in an 11-5 win against the Mets. The amped up offense was a good sign for a club that only recently worked itself back to full strength.
Icing the 6-1 road trip with a single-game "sweep" in Colorado -- and one that had playoff implications -- made it well worth the trip.
"The fact that we had a big inning and we started to hit the ball well, I think that's going to help us as far as really getting our offense going," Manuel said. "We've struggled, but at the same time, we haven't had our team on the field. The last four or five or six days, we've basically put the same team out there. That is our lineup. It feels good to see them start hitting and scoring some runs."
The comeback was a long time in the making, as starter Joe Blanton showed signs of struggling early. Of the first 16 hitters he faced, one walked and 11 drove the ball to the outfield. Seven hits, including a pair of second-inning homers from Chris Iannetta and Dexter Fowler that landed in the left- and right-field seats, respectively, gave the Rockies an early 4-0 lead.
"Crazier games have been played here," Werth said. "We've been in those situations, those circumstances, many times. With what we've accomplished over the past few years and what we've done here, you can't count us out. We're resilient, we bounce back. We've proven it time and time again."
|"We've been in those situations, those circumstances, many times. With what we've accomplished over the past few years and what we've done here, you can't count us out. We're resilient, we bounce back. We've proven it time and time again."|
|-- Jayson Werth|
The Phillies were hitless for 3 2/3 innings against Rockies rookie Jhoulys Chacin, but they got on the scoreboard with two outs in the fourth when Raul Ibanez knocked a run-scoring single to center, and they plated a run in each of the next two innings before erupting in the seventh.
"It's two teams that have been known to slug, and both kind of came out today," Howard said. "It was kind of back and forth. They got up on us early. One thing about this team is we kept plugging away, chipping, getting a run here, a run there, and just giving ourselves an opportunity to strike. And we struck."
After the Rockies lit up Blanton for two more runs and knocked him out in the fifth, the Phillies retaliated by bouncing Chacin in the sixth, working his pitch count up to 100 and quickly attacking Colorado bullpen.
"This is a very veteran club we just played," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who was ejected arguing a hit-by-pitch call with Mike Sweeney pinch-hitting in the sixth. "There's a reason they've been to the World Series the last two years in a row. They are extremely patient, they rarely chase bad pitches. And when they get themselves into good counts and the pitch shows up they want to take a swing at, they swing at it and they hit it. And they hit it hard."
The win lengthened the Phillies' lead in the National League Wild Card race to two games over the Giants and put the Rockies 6 1/2 games behind the pace. The Braves' division lead is down to two games after they fell, 4-2, to the Mets.
"It should help us when we get back home," Manuel said. "We just got through getting swept by Houston before we left. That put a sour taste in our mouth. We have to go back home and have a good homestand."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.