Phillies show fight in comeback win over Rockies

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Phillies show fight in comeback win over Rockies

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DENVER -- How do you figure this one? The Phillies came into baseball’s ultimate hitter’s park with the third-worst bullpen ERA (4.51) in the majors Friday night. And, of course, that bullpen held the majors’ second-highest scoring team scoreless for 4 2/3 innings.

That’s almost as hard to believe as a team getting 16 hits and scoring just three runs.

After losing their fifth straight game earlier this week, the Phillies have put together a modest, and improbable, two-game winning streak. One night after the aforementioned 16-hit victory in Minneapolis, the Phils ventured into Coors Field on Friday night and rallied for an 8-7 win over the Colorado Rockies (see Instant Replay).

Kyle Kendrick’s specialty since moving into the rotation last August has been keeping his team in ballgames, but he didn’t do that in this one. He was roughed up early and often and left the game trailing, 7-2, in the fifth inning. A sextet of relievers held the Rockies scoreless the rest of the way and the offense, led by Freddy Galvis’ four RBIs in two innings, surged for six runs to go on top.

Good work with the bats.

Good work out of the ‘pen.

There was one other thing the Phillies benefited from in this game.

Instead of rolling over and taking another loss, they showed some guts in pulling out a win.

“I hope we did,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Manuel revealed that he had a little talk with his position players in the indoor batting cage before the game.

Was it more Bobby Knight or Knute Rockne?

“A little bit of both,” he said.

Manuel added, “I thought it was good. I wanted to talk to them about our base running, and leads and who we are and how we’ve been doing and what we have to do.

“We’re going to get better. And we have to.”

As poorly as the Phillies have played recently, they are just 6½ games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East. They are 3-5 on this road trip and, as bad as it has been, they still have a chance to go .500 on it if they win Saturday and Sunday. That would bring them right back to the .500 mark for the season.

There were a bunch of key moments in Friday night’s win.

Reliever Jeremy Horst entered a 7-2 game with runners on base in the fifth and got a big double play ball to keep the game in check. Mike Stutes followed with a scoreless inning in the sixth. The Phils took the lead in the top of the seventh against Wilton Lopez, the reliever they nearly traded for last winter before having health concerns, and Jake Diekman, just up from Triple A, and Justin De Fratus protected it.

Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon closed it out. Papelbon struck out dangerous Michael Cuddyer -- it was the Phils’ only K of the game -- with a runner on second for the second out and got Todd Helton on a ground ball to end the game.

Galvis had been 1 for 22 on the trip before belting a two-run triple to highlight a three-run sixth. He smacked another two-run triple -- past the aging Helton at first -- into the right-field corner to highlight another three-run inning in the seventh. Jimmy Rollins, who did not start because of a sore foot and hip, put the Phils ahead with a pinch-hit single. Of course, those two hits don’t happen if John Mayberry Jr. doesn’t work an eight-pitch walk with two outs.

“That was a good comeback for us,” Manuel said.

“A good team win,” Galvis said. “Everyone did their job. That’s good for us.”

Manuel was particularly pleased with his bullpen, especially how some of the youngsters responded.

“That’s how you grow and build confidence,” he said.

Despite his poor outing, Kendrick was all smiles after the game. It isn’t often a Phillies starting pitcher gets lit up then gets off the hook because his teammates exploded for a bunch of runs.

“Obviously, it wasn’t my night,” he said. “I couldn’t make a pitch. But the offense and the bullpen picked me up.”

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

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The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

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Best of MLB: Nationals clinch NL East with win over Pirates

Best of MLB: Nationals clinch NL East with win over Pirates

PITTSBURGH -- The Washington Nationals clinched their third National League East title in five years, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 Saturday night behind 5 1/3 scoreless innings from rookie reliever Reynaldo Lopez.

Stephen Drew's two-run single capped a three-run first inning for the Nationals, who return to the postseason after a one-year absence. Their win ensured a playoff berth, and they won the division about 20 minutes later when the second-place New York Mets lost to Philadelphia.

Lopez (4-3) came on to the start the bottom of the fourth inning with a 6-1 lead and allowed three hits while striking out five and walking one. He was removed a runner on first and one out in the ninth inning.

Marc Rzepczynski and Blake Treinen got one out each to end the game, and a pocket of Nationals' fans behind the visiting dugout cheered (see full recap).

Cardinals solve Wrigley again, crush Hammel, Cubs 10-4
CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Cardinals have a lot to accomplish if they want to return to Chicago in two weeks for a rematch of last year's NL Division Series. They would have to qualify for one of the wild-card spots, then win the single-elimination playoff game.

If they do, the Cardinals may be the one club that won't be fazed by Wrigley Field and the Cubs.

Yadier Molina drove in four runs, Stephen Piscotty homered and the Cardinals boosted their playoff hopes by getting to Jason Hammel early in a 10-4 rout of Chicago on Saturday.

Randal Grichuk added three RBIs and Jhonny Peralta had three hits and scored three runs for the Cardinals, who stopped a two-game skid and moved into a tie with San Francisco for the final NL wild-card spot pending the Giants' game at San Diego (see full recap).

Yanks shut out for 3rd straight game in 3-0 loss to Jays
TORONTO -- The New York Yankees' offense has disappeared, and their playoffs chances have pretty much vanished, too.

Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer off Tyler Clippard in the eighth inning, and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Yankees 3-0 Saturday.

New York has been shut out in three straight games for the first time July 27-28, 1975.

"Whatever we're doing right now, it's not working," first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "We just seem to have lost it the last few days."

The Yankees have lost 10 of 13 following a seven-game winning streak and dropped 4 1/2 games back for the AL's second wild card with eight games left. They likely will miss the playoffs for the third time in four years (see full recap).

Dietrich homers, Marlins end Braves' streak at 7 win
MIAMI -- Derek Dietrich hit a two-run homer to help the Miami Marlins end the Atlanta Braves' winning streak at seven games, winning 6-4 on Saturday night.

Dee Gordon had two hits, two walks and three stolen bases - one shy of tying the Marlins' single-game franchise high, which he has done on two separate occasions.

Atlanta's Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 28 games in the first inning and has reached base in 44 straight. He also hit a solo home run in the sixth, his 32nd.

Brian Ellington (4-2) earned the win in relief and A.J. Ramos recorded his 39th save in 42 chances.

The Braves pulled within 5-4 on a wild pitch by Fernando Rodney in the seventh inning (see full recap).