Denver, CO (Sports Network) – Ryan Howard drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and Brad Lidge escaped a jam to preserve the victory as the Philadelphia Phillies won the pivotal Game 3 of their National League Division Series, 6-5, over the Colorado Rockies in frosty conditions at Coors Field.
The teams split the first two contests of the best-of-five series in Philadelphia, but the Phillies are now a win away from going back to the NLCS with a rematch against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Carlos Ruiz knocked in two runs, while Chase Utley homered and scored twice for the defending World Series champions.
Jimmy Rollins singled to center off Huston Street (0-1) to start the ninth inning. Shane Victorino moved the runner with a sacrifice bunt, and Utley was called safe on a close call after an excuse-me swing. Utley actually seemed to foul the ball off his shin, but it was ruled in play and Street’s high throw to first base barely pulled Todd Helton off the bag.
“I think there were other elements involved that were much more glaring as to the outcome of the game,” said Rockies manager Jim Tracy. “I did not see the ball hit his leg coming out, but I wasn’t sure whether he was safe or out at first base.”
Howard followed with a sac fly to left-center field.
Lidge, who was downright awful this year by blowing a league-high 11 saves, while going 0-8 with an absurd 7.21 ERA, put two men on base in the bottom half. But he got Troy Tulowitzki to pop out to left field to end the game and earn the save and finish the four-hour, six-minute marathon.
“When the postseason starts, it’s a completely new slate,” said Lidge. “I feel real good in the postseason and in general right now. Hopefully we’ll keep doing the job we did as a whole that we did with the bullpen tonight.”
Carlos Gonzalez had three hits, including a homer, and scored three times for the Rockies. Garrett Atkins added two RBI.
Winter coats and hats were the tall order at the stadium. The game-time temperature of 35 degrees tied the lowest ever for a postseason contest and it came just a night after Game 3 was postponed due to a snowstorm.
“We had a lot of heat in the dugouts, but I really think you have to give credit to both clubs,” said Tracy. “That’s not the easiest conditions in the world to play baseball, but both clubs did an admirable job.”
The Phillies will turn to Game 1 winner Cliff Lee for Monday’s 6:07 p.m. (et) contest while the Rockies counter with Ubaldo Jimenez.
It was another nail-biter for Lidge. Gonzalez walked with one out and then stole second before pinch-hitter Jason Giambi fouled out to third. Helton walked, but Tulowitzki’s fly ball to short left field was squeezed by Ben Francisco to cap the contest.
“I felt real comfortable, real good,” said Lidge, who lives in nearby Englewood. “I was starting to get that feeling again that things are going to go right. It was nice to get out there tonight. I was real happy to get that opportunity. The entire bullpen did a tremendous job tonight.”
J.A. Happ was called to start Game 3 instead of Pedro Martinez, the original starter for the Phillies, but the left-hander departed after allowing five hits and three runs over three innings.
Colorado starter Jason Hammel was gone after 3 2/3 innings as he allowed four hits and four runs.
Utley homered to right field with two outs in the opening inning, but the Rockies scored twice in the bottom half. Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler singled to put runners at the corners. Helton’s RBI fielder’s choice on a ball hit to Utley tied the game. Tulowitzki singled, and two batters later Atkins’ grounder into left field gave the Rockies a 2-1 lead.
Atkins doubled in Helton in the third inning.
Aside from Utley’s homer, Hammel was dominant early, retiring nine of the first 10 hitters, but the righty walked Victorino to start the fourth. Back- to-back singles from Utley and Howard tied the game ,and Jayson Werth walked to load the bases with nobody out. Raul Ibanez worked a nine-pitch walk to force in a run, but Pedro Feliz grounded into a 1-2-3 double play. A Ruiz single to left field moved the Phillies to a 4-3 lead, but they couldn’t add to the lead and left two men on base.
Gonzalez homered to right field off Joe Blanton with two outs in the fourth, but the Phillies went back on top, 5-4, in the sixth when Ruiz grounded a single up the middle to drive in Ibanez.
Gonzalez led off the bottom of the seventh with a double to center field. Fowler then bunted between the mound and first base. Scott Eyre, in an effort to field the ball, appeared to roll his ankle and tumbled to the ground as Fowler raced to first for the infield hit to put runners on the corners.
Eyre walked off the field under his own power and was replaced by Ryan Madson, who fanned Helton before Tulowitzki lifted a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game.
The Phillies put men on second and third in the eighth, but Rafael Betancourt ended up striking out three batters in the inning, including Ruiz and pinch- hitter Matt Stairs in succession to end the threat.
Chad Durbin (1-0) threw a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning for the Phillies.
Happ started despite taking a ball off the leg in a brief relief appearance Thursday and suffered a bruised shin…A possible fifth contest is slated for Tuesday night in Philadelphia…The Phillies are 5-12 all-time in Game 3 of a postseason series.
— via Sports Network