Rockies edge Phillies 2-1, sweep in team’s 1st playoff series win
AP Sports Writer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
DENVER (AP) ” The blackout at Coors Field was caused by a cranky computer. Blame the Philadelphia Phillies’ power outage on rookie Ubaldo Jimenez and a Colorado bullpen that has been lights out for three weeks.
The Rockies roared into the NL championship series Saturday night, completing a three-game sweep by beating Philadelphia 2-1 on pinch-hitter Jeff Baker’s tiebreaking single in the eighth inning.
Colorado’s 17th win in 18 games was fueled by Jimenez, the hard-throwing 23-year-old who allowed one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings, and a bevy of reliable relievers who silenced the Phillies’ dangerous bats for the third straight game.
The wild-card Rockies get four days off before opening the NLCS on Thursday in Arizona, the first time two teams from the NL West have met in the league championship series.
The young Diamondbacks, also a big surprise this season, finished a first-round sweep of the Chicago Cubs earlier Saturday.
This series was supposed to be a slugfest between the NL’s two highest-scoring teams ” in two of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball. But the Rockies put on a pitching performance that rivaled any in recent memory, shutting down Philadelphia’s sluggers time and time again.
They did it with a rotation that included ace Jeff Francis and two rookies, plus a bullpen that has become dominant over the last three incredible weeks.
With two outs in the eighth, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe hit back-to-back singles off J.C. Romero to put runners at the corners. After a conference on the mound, Romero stayed in and Baker sliced a 1-0 pitch between first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley.
Manny Corpas, who has blown just one save in 22 chances since taking over as closer, pitched the ninth to close out Colorado’s first playoff series win in the franchise’s 15-year history. It was his third save in the series.
Jimenez’s only mistake was a hanging curveball that Shane Victorino sent into the right-field seats in the seventh to tie it 1-all. It was the first hit he allowed since Howard’s single in the first inning.
After Carlos Ruiz followed Victorino’s homer with a single to left, right-hander Matt Herges came in and retired the next two batters.
Jimenez matched Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia’s 44-year-old left-hander who allowed just one run and five hits in six innings and wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam unscathed in the second.
Kaz Matsui, who had five RBIs in Game 2, broke a scoreless tie in the fifth with a triple that skipped past diving left fielder Pat Burrell, scoring Yorvit Torrealba from first base with two outs.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose to let Moyer bat for himself leading off the sixth and Jimenez fell behind his counterpart 3-0 before Moyer grounded out on a full-count fastball.
Jimmy Rollins and Utley drew one-out walks but Burrell swung at the first pitch and flied out. Jimenez got out of the jam by inducing Howard into a groundout.
With the flags barely fluttering in the eighth, Burrell skied Brian Fuentes’ fastball that just hooked foul before whiffing to end the inning.
This was the first playoff game in Colorado since the humidor was introduced in 2002 to keep baseballs from drying up in Denver’s thin air. The ballpark has lost much of its reputation as the “Coors Canaveral” launching pad ever since, but the problem for hitters on this night wasn’t moisturized baseballs but strong winds, strange weather and a blackout in the second inning.
Colorado won the series’ first two games in Philadelphia by holding the high-scoring Phillies to seven combined runs, setting up a chance for the Rockies to reach the NL championship series for the first time in their 15-year history.
It was the first playoff game in the Mile High City since 1995 and it was everything you’d expect from a baseball game in the Rocky Mountains in October.
A cold front hit the stadium just moments before the Rockies took the field, dropping the temperature 15 degrees into the upper 50s, with gusty winds stirring peanut dust and hot-dog wrappers around the stadium.
Things really got strange in the second inning when a computer malfunction caused the lights to go out while Victorino was up. The players retreated to their dugouts while flashbulbs freckled the stands and auxiliary lights flickered on, casting Coors Field in a dim glow.
The lights returned and play resumed 14 minutes later with winds gusting up to 39 mph inside the stadium, knocking down any ball to the outfield.
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