Matsui’s slam lifts Rockies over Phillies 10-5, Colorado takes 2-0 playoff lead
AP Sports Writer
PHILADELPHIA (AP) ” Home or away, these Colorado Rockies are on quite a roll.
Kaz Matsui hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs, leading the Rockies over the Philadelphia Phillies 10-5 Thursday for a 2-0 lead in their NL playoff series.
Matsui connected off scheduled Game 4 starter Kyle Lohse, rushed in to relieve struggling rookie Kyle Kendrick in the fourth inning.
At this rate, the best-of-five series may not get that far. Rookie Ubaldo Jimenez will try to pitch Colorado to a sweep Saturday night at Coors Field against veteran Jamie Moyer.
Making just the second postseason appearance in the franchise’s 15-year history, Colorado is on the verge of going to its first NL championship series. The wild-card Rockies posted their eighth straight road victory, and have won 16 of 17 overall.
“They’ve embraced the ride and they’re not taking anything for granted,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Matsui fell a single short of the cycle, and Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday homered on consecutive pitches in the first inning off Kendrick, who got a quick hook from manager Charlie Manuel.
The Phillies had a chance to make it interesting in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. But closer Manny Corpas came in and retired Carlos Ruiz on a bouncer to third. Corpas worked around a pair of two-out singles in a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many days.
Before the game, Corpas came under scrutiny because he was caught by TBS cameras on Wednesday taking a sip of a liquid out of a cup in the bullpen, then pouring some down the back of his neck and all over the front of his jersey. He was seen patting his chest and rubbing his fingers before throwing a pitch, but didn’t appear to do anything shady in this appearance.
Jimmy Rollins homered and drove in four runs and Ryan Howard also connected for Philadelphia, which ended a 14-year playoff drought by capturing the NL East title on the final day of the season.
But it’s been downhill for the Phillies since they followed a wild celebration Sunday with a pep rally at City Hall the next day.
The heavily criticized Manuel gave his critics plenty of ammunition with two questionable moves.
With the Phillies leading 3-2 in the fourth, Manuel pulled Kendrick after pinch-hitter Seth Smith’s infield single loaded the bases with two outs.
Manuel called on Lohse, who made two relief appearances on side days down the stretch. Lohse got ahead 1-2 on Matsui, before grooving a fastball. Matsui drove it into the right-field seats to give the Rockies a 6-3 lead and silence the largest crowd ever at four-year-old Citizens Bank Park.
“I don’t think it was a mistake,” Manuel said. “I liked Lohse on Matsui. He’s been pitching really good out of the bullpen, he has good stuff and I felt he was the right guy.”
A total of 45,991 came out, waved their rally towels and cheered wildly despite the score ” somewhat out of character for the notoriously tough Philly boobirds. But they sure gave Jose Mesa an earful when the reliever struggled in the sixth.
Manuel inexplicably used Mesa, who had a 5.54 ERA in 40 games with the Phillies, instead of Clay Condrey to start the inning. Mesa walked the first two batters he faced and allowed a two-run double to Yorvit Torrealba that put the Rockies ahead 8-3. Mesa stayed in and retired pitcher Josh Fogg, before Manuel finally came out and got him.
Condrey gave up an RBI triple to Matsui and RBI single to Holliday to give the Rockies a 10-3 lead.
“You hope the pitcher can hold the score and you can catch up,” Manuel said.
Matsui, Colorado’s leadoff hitter, had just four homers in 410 at-bats this season. He flied out to center in his last at-bat, finishing 3-for-5.
Booed out of New York after 2 1/2 seasons with the Mets, Matsui is a perfect fit in calmer Colorado.
“I couldn’t make good results in New York,” Matsui said through an interpreter. “I’m glad I have a good environment and a good team in Colorado.”
Rookie Franklin Morales lasted just three innings, allowing three runs and three hits in his ninth career start. The 21-year-old Venezuelan played in the All-Star Futures game in July, made his big league debut a month later and earned his first win in Philly on Sept. 11.
Fogg relieved the hard-throwing lefty, and pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win in his second relief appearance this year. Fogg started Monday when Colorado beat San Diego in 13 innings in the wild-card tiebreaker.
“They had that big inning and there wasn’t any looking back,” Howard said. “We tried to make a comeback and just came up short. We need to have short memories right now.”
On an unseasonably warm fall afternoon in Philly ” it was 82 degrees at game time ” the balls were flying out early.
Tulowitzki, the Rookie of the Year candidate, gave the Rockies a 1-0 on a towering drive that landed in the flower bed just beyond the left-center field wall and bounced onto the field. Thinking the ball was in play, Tulowitzki slid into third base, got up and jogged home.
There was no doubt about Holliday’s shot. He ripped one deep onto the left-field seats for his second homer in two games and his sixth in six games in Philadelphia this season.
Rollins, who had a career-best 30 homers, connected on Morales’ first pitch in the bottom of the first to slice Colorado’s lead to 2-1.
Morales ran into trouble in the second. Ruiz doubled to right-center to put runners at second and third with one out. After Kendrick grounded out, Rollins came through.
With the crowd chanting “M-V-P!” he lined a two-run triple to left-center to give the Phillies their first lead of the series, 3-2.
The Rockies elected to pitch to Rollins with a base open and Chase Utley up next. Though he hit .332 during the season, Utley struck out his first five at-bats in this series.
Kendrick, who led NL rookies with 10 wins, allowed five runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Notes: Rollins hit the first leadoff homer in the Phillies’ postseason history. … The Phillies haven’t won a postseason game since Curt Schilling shut out Toronto in Game 5 of the 1993 World Series. That series ended with Joe Carter’s homer clinching the championship for the Blue Jays. … Colorado’s bullpen has allowed one earned run in nine innings.
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