Cliff Lee tries to pitch the Philadelphia Phillies into the National League Championship Series for the second straight year this evening when they play Game 4 of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
Lee was absolutely brilliant in winning Game 1 of this best-of-five set, as he went the distance, surrendering one run and six hits. He also struck out five without issuing a walk.
The left-hander, who took a shutout into the ninth inning, also retired 16 consecutive batters from the second inning until the seventh and became the first Phillies starter to pitch a complete game in the playoffs since Curt Schilling during Game 5 of the 1993 World Series.
“I’m going to continue to try to do mostly the same sort of things I did last game,” said Lee. “I felt like I was unpredictable then.”
Lee, who has pitched to an 8.10 ERA in his four road starts since September 1, has never pitched at Coors Field. However, he has beaten the Rockies the last two times he has faced them, allowing just two runs in 16 innings of work.
“[The Rockies] should make adjustments,” Lee said. “That’s the name of the game. If you’re not making adjustments, you’re losing ground in this game.”
Philadelphia grabbed a 2-1 lead in this series on Sunday, as Ryan Howard drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and Brad Lidge escaped a jam in the ninth, helping Philly to a 6-5 victory in a division series-record 4 hours and 6 minutes.
“It’s huge,” said Howard. “Being down 2-1, especially here on the road, would have made it that much tougher. But now we have the opportunity to win it tomorrow, and we have to take advantage of that.”
Carlos Ruiz knocked in two runs, while Chase Utley homered and scored twice for the defending World Series champions, who have never lost a series when they are up 2-1.
Should they win tonight, the Phils would begin the NLCS on Thursday in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, who completed a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend to advance.
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, while Garrett Atkins added two RBI for the Rockies, who were just 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They are 5-for-23 in the series with RISP.
Hoping to keep the Rockies alive tonight will be righty Ubaldo Jimenez, who was roughed up by the Phils in Game 1. Jimenez cruised through the first four innings, before running into trouble in the fifth and ended up surrendering five runs and nine hits before exiting in the sixth without recording an out.
“I’m not concerned at all,” said Jimenez. “It’s something mechanic, probably. Like in the first four innings, I was able to get ahead every time and then when I got to the fifth and sixth inning, I lost my control. I was falling behind in the count, and then I had to throw my fastball right in the middle, use my breaking ball. They took advantage of it.”
Philadelphia won four of six from the Rockies in the regular season.
If necessary, Game 5 of this series will be played on Tuesday in Philadelphia.
— Via Sports Network