Phillies use clutch hits to claim walk-off win


Phillies use clutch hits to claim walk-off win


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.”

Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

USA Today Images

Phillies Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning recovering from stroke

National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher and Phillies great Jim Bunning is recovering from a stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bunning, who suffered the stroke Tuesday night in his Southgate, Kentucky, home, was moved from intensive care to a transitional care unit on Thursday night, per the report.

Bunning "has been provided skilled care that is leading him on the road to recovery," the family said in a statement Friday.

"The Bunning family wants to thank the first responders and medical personnel who have been treating dad," the statement said. "We sincerely appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all who are concerned about our father’s health. However, so we can focus our efforts on dad’s recovery, we ask the press to respect our family’s privacy at this time. We will let everyone know as his health continues to improve."

The 84-year old is one of two Phillies pitchers to toss a perfect game in the organization’s history. He accomplished the feat on Father’s Day in 1964.

Along with the Phillies, Bunning played for the Tigers, Pirates and Dodgers in his 17-year career. The righthander, who was enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1984, won 89 games and posted a 2.93 ERA in six seasons in Philadelphia. 

After his baseball days, Bunning started a career in politics. He served stints in Congress and the U.S. Senate before retiring in 2010.

MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

USA Today Images

MLB playoffs: Cubs advance to first World Series since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton Kershaw, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.

Lineup shuffle
Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.

Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.