10/12/09 4:17 AM ET
Rockies fall to brink of elimination
Street allows game-winner in ninth; Rox in 2-1 NLDS hole
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
There was the bat of Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitkzi bouncing off the dirt, after Tulowitzki had slammed it in frustration.
Then, heard above all, was a joyous scream of the Denver-area native who was the happiest person in the house. Brad Lidge, the Phillies' closer, went from beleaguered to jubilant after Tulowitkzi's fly ball with two on in the ninth ended the Rockies' 6-5 loss in Game 3 of the National League Division Series.
Now the Rockies are left hoping that Monday doesn't turn out to be the last of Rocktober. After overcoming an 18-28 start to qualify for the postseason as the NL Wild Card, the Rockies must beat the defending World Series champion Phillies at Coors (4:07 p.m. MT) to send the series back to Philadelphia on Tuesday.
"We've had our backs against the wall before, and we've overcome a lot," said Tulowitkzi, who barely missed on two big swings -- one a seventh-inning sacrifice fly, the other the game-ending at-bat. "Hopefully, this is one more thing."
The Rockies also have to overcome the helpless feeling that they were victims of a missed call in the ninth that helped the Phillies to the winning run, on Ryan Howard's sacrifice fly off losing pitcher Huston Street. It was a cold ending on a frigid night. The temperature at first pitch was 35 degrees, and it dropped to 26 by game's end.
Jimmy Rollins opened the ninth with a single and took second on Shane Victorino's sacrifice bunt. Rollins went to third when Chase Utley, who had homered in the first inning, reached on a dribbler in front of the plate. However, replays showed that the ball bounced off Utley's right leg while he was in the batter's box and should have been ruled foul.
Plate umpire Jerry Meals, after seeing the replay, said no one on the six-man crew saw the ball hit Utley.
"No. 1, it wasn't seen by myself or anybody," Meals said. "If you look at it, you'll be able to see it ... off the front leg, got him up in the knee/thigh area. It just grazed him and the ball continued to roll the way it was rolling."
Street disagreed with more than one call on the play. First-base umpire Ron Kulpa ruled that Street's throw, which had to sail over Utley's head, pulled first baseman Todd Helton off the bag.
"It definitely hit his leg," Street said. "He told 'Tulo' it hit his leg. But it didn't matter. He took off running, and was still out at first base, but they said [Helton] was off the base."
THE 2-1 ADVANTAGE
|Record of teams leading 2-1|
|LDS (both): 26-6|
In a sense, it's a shock the game came to such a call. The Rockies' strategy, to dispose of starter J.A. Happ and work against a Phillies bullpen that had struggled late in the regular season, worked.
Colorado had another standout performance from left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who went 3-for-4 with a home run, a single, a double and three runs scored. The homer was a fourth-inning shot off Joe Blanton for a 4-4 tie. Gonzalez is hitting 8-for-13 in the series. But take away his hitting and the Rockies' series average drops from .255 to .200.
"I'm just going up there and playing it like it's any other game," said Gonzalez, 23, in his first postseason.
The Rockies chased Happ after three innings by scoring three runs on five hits. Two of the hits were an RBI single in the first and an RBI double in the third by Garrett Atkins, who has started all three games against a lefty-dominated Phillies staff in place of Ian Stewart.
"We did everything we wanted to do early in the game, but with an offense like that, you know they're going to keep coming at you," Atkins said.
In the fourth inning, a 3-1 lead became a 4-3 deficit when Rockies starter Jason Hammel issued three walks, one to Raul Ibanez with the bases loaded, and gave up three hits, including RBI singles to Howard and Carlos Ruiz. With the bases loaded and no outs, Hammel worked Pedro Feliz into a mound-to-home-to-first double play.
But the righty gave up Ruiz's single, and Matt Belisle replaced him to force pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs into an inning-ending grounder.
"All I can say is you can't be walking guys," Hammel said. "That goes as far back as baseball has ever been."
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
The Rockies blew their best opportunity in the seventh.
Gonzalez doubled and Dexter Fowler bunted for a single against left-hander Scott Eyre, who twisted an ankle going for the bunt and had to leave the game. Ryan Madson replaced Eyre and retired all three batters he faced, limiting the Rockies to a run on Tulowitzki's sacrifice fly.
Helton, the first batter Madson faced, had gone 5-for-8 against him in regular-season play. But Madson made the hard-swinging Helton chase a high 2-2 fastball on the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
"I've played long enough to know not to swing at that pitch," Helton said.
Winning pitcher Chad Durbin pitched a quiet eighth. But Lidge, who had blown 11 saves during the regular season and was not certain to be the closer, had an eventful ninth. He walked Gonzalez with one out, forced a Jason Giambi foul pop, then walked Helton before retiring Tulowitzki.
"It's nice to play here," Lidge said. "I've always enjoyed pitching here and sleeping in my own bed. So I guess there's something to be said for that."
Tulowitkzi hopes he can do Monday what Lidge did Sunday -- make the most of another opportunity.
"I felt like I got a good swing, got under it a little bit, hit it high," Tulowitzki said. "That's the situation you want to be in. Hopefully, next time I'll come through."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.