Phillies use clutch hits to claim walk-off win

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Phillies use clutch hits to claim walk-off win

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From going 0 for 13 with runners in scoring position and leaving a whopping 15 men on base to making two errors in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Colorado Rockies did everything in their power to give the Phillies a ballgame Wednesday night.

And finally, the Phillies took the gift.

The Phillies rallied for four unearned runs with two outs in the ninth inning to beat the Rockies, 6-3 (see Instant Replay).

The Phillies were one out away from falling a season-worst six games under .500 when Chase Utley tied the game with a single against Colorado lefty Boone Logan. The next batter, Ryan Howard, won it with a three-run home run, a bolt into the seats above the 387-foot marker in left-center.

It was Howard’s fifth career walk-off homer.

The Rockies, who had taken a 3-2 lead on a homer by DJ LeMahieu off Jake Diekman in the top of the eighth, left the door open for the Phillies to rally with two errors in the ninth. Second baseman Josh Rutledge threw away a ball with one out and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki dropped a pop up down the left-field line.

“That was big,” manager Ryne Sandberg said of Colorado’s miscues. “When you give major-league teams extra outs, something can happen.”

“It gives you life,” Howard said.

The Phillies hardly had a clean game, but performances like the one Mike Adams delivered put them in position to win.

Reliever Antonio Bastardo walked three batters in the seventh and catcher Carlos Ruiz made a throwing error. Adams was summoned into a bases-loaded, no-outs situation and calmly got his team out of the jam unscathed. Without Adams’ clutch work, the Phils probably aren’t in position to rally to win in the ninth.

“Phenomenal,” Howard said of Adams’ work.

Adams induced a 1-2-3 double play off the broken bat of Carlos Gonzalez before striking out Tulowitzki, the league’s leading hitter, on three pitches to end the threat and keep the game tied at 2-2.

Adams, who missed much of last season with a career-threatening shoulder injury that required surgery, has not allowed an earned run in his last 12 outings.

“If I’m healthy, I never doubted my ability,” he said. “All through my rehab, I believed and I am where I’m at now. Today was fun. That was a whole lot of fun.”

Adams faced Tulowitzki with first base open. Pitching coach Bob McClure went to the mound before the at-bat and gave Adams the option of walking the red-hot Rockie.

Adams never blinked. He was going after Tulowitzki.

“I was actually a little upset he gave me the option to walk Tulo,” Adams said. “I’m confident in what I do. I’m not going to back down from anybody. I ain’t scared. I don’t care who you are. I feel I’m better than the person at the plate.”

Sandberg said Adams’ performance came in “a closer-like” situation.

“Our backs were against the wall and he came up big,” Sandberg said.

Utley and Howard also came up big in the ninth.

The Phillies are 3-3 after six games on this 11-game homestand. Howard has had four hitless games (one was in a non-start) on the homestand. In the other two, he has five hits, including two homers, and eight RBIs. Both of those big performances have come in wins.

What has been the key for Howard in those games?

“I found the ball,” he said. “That’s about it. You don’t question it. You just roll with it.”

Howard hit a 2-2 fastball from Logan for his ninth homer. He knew it was a game-winner when he made contact.

“I knew I hit the gap,” he said. “I really didn’t care if it was out or not. I just knew once I hit it that it was going to be a base hit and game would be over. I really didn’t see where it landed.”

Howard’s home run touched off a home-plate celebration on a night when the Phillies appeared to be headed deeper into last place in the NL East.

Instead, they are just four games back in the division with the NL East rival Mets on their way in for five games.

“We’ve talked about trying to build on games like this,” Howard said. “Now it’s about doing it. It’s about going out there and executing. We have a chance to get ourselves back in this race. We’re not out of the race -- that’s the crazy thing about it. For as hot and cold as we’ve been all year, we still have a shot. I believe this is a championship-caliber team. We just need to start going out and playing like it.”

Jerad Eickhoff has 'off' game as Phillies' win streak ends with loss to Dodgers

Jerad Eickhoff has 'off' game as Phillies' win streak ends with loss to Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES — Hold your thumb and index finger about an inch apart.

That's how close Jerad Eickhoff came to pitching an excellent ballgame on Friday night.

The Phillies' six-game winning streak came to an end in a 5-3 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers (see Instant Replay).

Eickhoff took the loss, but he and his team might have had a different fate if the right-hander could have finished off innings more efficiently.

Eickhoff allowed the leadoff man to reach base in just one of six frames and he retired the first two batters four times. However, Eickhoff allowed nine baserunners with two outs and that was his downfall on an unusually windy night in Chavez Ravine.

What happened?

Simple. Eickhoff didn't have his trusty sidekick with him.

He didn't have his curveball.

"It just comes down to the curveball," he said. "I had it in the first inning and I just couldn't find that release point after that. I struggled with it.

"I was able to keep them off balance with my slider and by locating the fastball. Eight of their hits were singles and that's frustrating.

"But yeah, just the curveball. I couldn't put them away."

Seven of the nine hits that Eickhoff gave up came with two outs. He also issued two two-out walks. The Dodgers scored five runs against Eickhoff in 5 2/3 innings and four of them came with two outs. One of the four came on a wild pitch by Eickhoff. The wild pitch was a curveball that got away.

Perhaps the most frustrating sequence of the game for Eickhoff came in the fourth inning when Cody Bellinger beat the shift with a two-out bunt single then scored when No. 8 hitter Kike Hernandez lined a double over leftfielder Aaron Altherr's head to tie the game at 2-2. Altherr just missed making a running catch as the ball ticked off his glove as he raced back to the wall.

Also frustrating was the sixth inning. Eickhoff got the first two outs before allowing a single and a walk. Mackanin went to reliever Luis Garcia and Justin Turner tagged him for a two-run double as the Dodgers put the game away.

"You get two outs, you want to put them away," Eickhoff said. "You want to get the guys back in the dugout and I couldn't do it today.

"My curveball was either coming out early or I'd adjust, grip it a little tighter and I'd spike it. There was no in between. Then I'd get it over in the zone and it got put in play."

In other words, it was one of those nights.

"Eickhoff was off," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He just wasn't himself. He's allowed to have a bad game once in a while."

The Phillies' offense didn't have the best of days. Freddy Galvis improved his hitting streak to 10 games with a two-run double against Kenta Maeda to give the Phils a 2-0 lead in the third. But the Phillies got nothing else going against Maeda over his seven innings. Maikel Franco had a sacrifice fly in the eighth, but the Phils went down quietly in the ninth with Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen striking out Altherr, Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp to end the game.

Rupp had a double and a walk, but is hitting .180.

Joseph was hitless with three strikeouts in four at-bats. He is hitting .190.

"A two-run lead is really nothing when you think about it," Mackanin said. "It's nice to get a lead but you don't want to hang on for nine innings with a two-run lead. You need to add on and we couldn't. Maeda pitched well. He mixed it up. We just couldn't zero in on him and get a big inning going."

One bright spot for the Phils was the work of reliever Mark Leiter Jr. He pitched a scoreless seventh inning in his big-league debut. With his debut, Leiter and his dad (Mark Sr. pitched for the Phils in 1997 and 1998) became the second father-son duo, joining the Amaros, to play for the club.

Leiter, who grew up a Phillies fan in Tom's River, on the Jersey Shore, pitched a 1-2-3 inning. He got Chase Utley on a fly ball to left for the second out.

"That was pretty cool," Leiter said. "Growing up and watching the Phillies, I saw him contribute to a lot of great years. Anytime you face a guy you watched growing up and rooted for, it's pretty special. It was awesome, something you dream about."

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

Best of MLB: Mets beat Max Scherzer, first-place Nationals

WASHINGTON -- With Bryce Harper coming to the plate with the bases loaded and the Mets clinging to a two-run, ninth-inning lead, New York manager Terry Collins went to the mound and replaced closer Jeurys Familia with left-hander Josh Edgin.

"If we'd have won seven in a row, I probably would have left Jeurys out there, because that's what he's here to do," Collins said.

But the Mets had lost six in a row and 10 of 11, falling 7 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

Edgin got Harper to hit a comebacker the reliever turned in a game-ending double play as the Mets held on for a 7-5 victory Friday night (see full recap).

Yankees rally from 8 down to beat Orioles
NEW YORK -- Matt Holliday ended a thrilling duel of home run derby in the Bronx with one final thump.

Holliday hit the eighth homer of the game, a three-run shot in the 10th inning as the New York Yankees completed a stunning rally from an eight-run deficit, outslugging the Baltimore Orioles 14-11 Friday night.

"It's an amazing feeling. We're down 9-1, and then we were down 11-4," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "They never quit. We have the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark and that's what we did."

Starlin Castro slipped to a knee when he tied it with a two-run drive that capped a three-run burst in the ninth off Brad Brach. Then in the 10th, Holliday hit the Yankees' fifth homer of the evening with one out off Jayson Aquino (1-1) and was mobbed at the plate (see full recap).

Red Sox get to Arrieta early, beat Cubs
BOSTON -- Against Chicago Cubs ace Jake Arrieta, the Red Sox didn't have time for a slow start Friday night -- not exactly a strength for them this season.

Andrew Benintendi helped Boston solve that issue, and the club just had to hang on from there.

Benintendi hit a solo homer off Arrieta to spark a five-run first inning and Boston beat Chicago 5-4.

The Red Sox had just seven first-inning runs this season entering Friday (see full recap).

Soto's 2-run single leads White Sox past Tigers
DETROIT -- Mike Pelfrey put his emotions aside and helped his new team, the Chicago White Sox, beat his old team, the Detroit Tigers.

Pelfrey, who was released by the Tigers near the end of spring training, started Friday's game at Detroit and left after 4 2/3 innings with the game tied. Geovany Soto then had a two-run single in the eighth, helping the White Sox beat the Tigers 7-3 at Comerica Park.

"There's no bitterness," Pelfrey said of facing Detroit. "Those guys were good to me. Obviously, spring training didn't end the way I wanted, but that's on me. I don't think I lived up to my end of the bargain," (see full recap).