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.”

Best of MLB: Matt Kemp walk-off HR lifts Braves over Giants

Best of MLB: Matt Kemp walk-off HR lifts Braves over Giants

ATLANTA -- Matt Kemp hit a two-run homer off Cory Gearrin in the 11th inning to lift the Atlanta Braves to a 5-3 win over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.

The homer, the third of the game for Atlanta, was Kemp's seventh game-ending shot of his career.

Gearrin (1-2) walked Nick Markakis with one out before Kemp's homer barely cleared the right field wall..

Matt Adams hit a two-run homer and Tyler Flowers also homered off Jeff Samardzija.

Braves Sean Newcomb, who gave up one run in six innings, was denied his first win when Hunter Pence's homer off Braves closer Jim Johnson tied the game at 3-3 in the ninth. It was Johnson's fifth blown save in 18 chances (see full recap).

Diamondbacks ride 10-run 4th inning to victory
DENVER -- Taijuan Walker pitched six solid innings and slapped an RBI single during Arizona's biggest inning ever on the road -- a 10-run fourth -- and the Diamondbacks went on to beat the Colorado Rockies 16-5 on Wednesday night.

Shaking off Tuesday's tough loss in which Colorado rallied late for a one-run win, the Diamondbacks sent 14 men to the plate and pounded out nine hits, including a two-run double and RBI single by Brandon Drury in his two at-bats in the inning. Drury finished with four hits and career-high six RBIs and the Diamondbacks established season highs in run and hits (20).

David Peralta and Paul Goldschmidt also connected for two hits in the inning and combined for three RBIs, helping the Diamondbacks snap the Rockies' winning streak at six games and setting up Thursday's match between the NL West rivals as the decisive game in the series (see full recap).

Royals rally past Red Sox on Perez grand slam
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Salvador Perez hit his first career grand slam, connecting in the eighth inning to rally the Kansas City Royals over the Boston Red Sox 6-4 Wednesday.

The Royals have won nine of 11 and moved within a game of .500.

Perez homered over the Kansas City bullpen in left field on the ninth pitch from Robby Scott (0-1). With Boston leading 4-2, reliever Matt Barnes started the inning by walking Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain on 12 pitches.

Scott was summoned to face Eric Hosmer, but walked him on four pitches to load the bases for Perez. The All-Star catcher fouled off three full-count deliveries before hitting his 15th home run of the season.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Perez was the first Kansas City player to hit a grand slam in the eighth inning or later with the Royals trailing since Frank White in 1986.

Jorge Soria (3-2) worked a spotless eighth. Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances (see full recap).

Phillies on pace for 111 losses after bizarre late-game bullpen meltdown

Phillies on pace for 111 losses after bizarre late-game bullpen meltdown

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In the big picture — and that's what has really mattered right from the beginning of this season — something quite positive happened for the Phillies on Wednesday night: A young, promising pitcher took a nice step forward and for the second straight start offered hope that he might just be a reliable piece of the rotation when this rebuilding club is ready to be relevant again.

But in the narrow view, it was easy to look right past Nick Pivetta's six innings of three-run, 10-strikeout ball. That's how bad the losing has been. Every night offers a gaper delay on the highway to 100 losses.

Did we say 100?

How about 111? That's the Phillies' current pace after an ugly 7-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals (see Instant Replay) — and 111 losses would match a franchise high set in 1941 when Doc Prothro's club went 43-111.

It's bad, folks.

But you already knew that.

This one was especially unsightly for how the Phillies lost it. They blew a five-run lead under the weight of a barrage of home runs — two against the bullpen in the eighth and ninth innings — had the potential winning run cut down at the plate by 20 feet in the bottom of the ninth then lost it in the 10th after a troubling meltdown by reliever Edubray Ramos.

You almost had to see it to believe it. And if you didn't see it, don't bother looking for a replay. It will only hurt your eyes.

"We let that five-run lead get away from us," manager Pete Mackanin said. "Real disappointing night. Pivetta did a really good job for us, gave us six good innings. And we had 16 hits; you have to win a game when you get 16 hits. We couldn't push any more runs across until that 10th inning. Very disappointing."

Pivetta — 19 strikeouts in his last two starts — took a 5-0 lead to the mound in the fifth and was tagged for a home run on a 3-2 fastball in that inning. No problem. He issued a two-out walk in the sixth then served up a first-pitch, two-run homer to Jedd Gyorko. Little problem, but not fatal.

Things started to turn bad in the eighth when reliever Joaquin Benoit served up a first-pitch homer to Jose Martinez to make it a one-run game and they got worse when Hector Neris blew his second save in three games when he gave up a game-tying homer to Tommy Pham (his second of the game) on a 1-1 fastball in the ninth.

In the 10th, Ramos gave up a leadoff double to Martinez. The reliever then balked Martinez to third and gifted him home plate on an errant pickoff throw to first base. (It sailed way over Tommy Joseph's head.) The Cards ended up scoring two runs in the frame. The second one came in handy when the Phils pushed across one in the bottom of the inning.

Ramos looks like a pitcher who needs to go to the minors to clear his head. In his last three outings, he has faced eight batters and allowed three hits, three walks and seven runs. He has also committed a costly balk and a costly error, signs that's he becoming a little overwhelmed.

"I don't know what to tell you," Mackanin said. "It looks like he's mixed up or something. He's not the same guy."

Ramos declined to speak with reporters after the game.

But Odubel Herrera and Pat Neshek did agree to chat.

Neshek, the Phillies' best reliever, was conspicuously absent from a close game. He threw 28 pitches Sunday, had a day off Monday and threw 11 on Tuesday. He was not available. What was curious was that Mackanin said Neshek had told him he was sore. Neshek said he never said such a thing, that he showed up to the ballpark and was told he was getting a day off, which he actually thought was a good idea. But sore? Not so, he said.

As for Herrera, he drew attention for running through third base coach Juan Samuel's stop sign in the bottom of the ninth inning and getting nailed at the plate for the final out. Samuel said it was the first time a player had ever run through one of his stop signs. In this case, Herrera almost ran him over.

"It's just bad timing for it," Samuel said.

There was some question as to whether Samuel's stop sign went up too late, but Herrera dismissed that. He said he was simply running with his head down.

"I was playing aggressive," he said. "I wanted to win the game. So when I was rounding third, I put my head down. I kept going to home plate. I saw [the stop sign]. But I saw it late. I put my head down. That's my mistake."

Making a mistake didn't make Herrera unique Wednesday night.

"The mistakes we're making are giving the other team too many pitches to hit," Mackanin said. "Those are our mistakes. Especially late in the game."