Rockies sweep Phils for NLCS trip
Baker's RBI single in eighth the difference at delirious Coors
DENVER -- Once upon a time, long before 50,724 at Coors Field waved their white towels and celebrated an improbable trip to the National League Championship Series, the Rockies lost games like Saturday night's. Now they almost never lose.
The Rockies used three soft, two-out, eighth-inning hits -- the last an RBI single by pinch-hitter Jeff Baker -- for a 2-1 victory over the Phillies that completed a three-game sweep of the NL Division Series.
It was the Rockies' 17th victory in 18 games, the first home playoff triumph in their 15-year history -- the only other postseason trip was 1995 -- and their first series victory.
It was their first home win when scoring two or fewer runs since July 9, 2005, 1-0 over the Padres.
"There used to be stats like that, that we didn't do well in that type of game -- but all those stats don't matter," said Garrett Atkins, who started the rally with a soft liner to left field against Phillies lefty J.C. Romero, who had not given up a run since Aug. 30.
"It's symbolic of the club we have, and it's a versatile club," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've been able to slug, pitch ..."
The Rockies' Brad Hawpe, whose single off the glove of diving second baseman Chase Utley set up Baker's floater to right off Romero, said the Rockies don't have the interest in analysis, statistical or otherwise.
"It may be a long time before we look back and really understand what's happened," Hawpe said.
Said Baker, "Day in and day out, guys grind, and that's what this team is all about."
Now all that matters is their best-of-seven NLCS starting Thursday against the Diamondbacks, who finished a sweep of the Cubs in the other NLDS on Saturday.
The first two games, 4-2 and 10-5 wins at Citizens Bank Park, Matt Holliday hit two home runs and the Rockies did their share of slugging.
But Saturday was different. The announced game-time temperature was 73 degrees. It was down to a windy 56 by the end of the second. That included a delay of 14 minutes in the top of the second by a computer malfunction that turned off the stadium lights.
Kazuo Matsui knocked his second RBI triple of the series, which was aided by an ill-timed dive by left fielder Pat Burrell in the fifth. Shane Victorino's homered to right with one out in the seventh against otherwise dominant Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez, who held the Phillies to three hits and fanned five against four walks in 6 1/3 innings.
Otherwise, the power was off for this game.
A perfect example came in the second, when Atkins crushed a pitch from Phillies starter Jamie Moyer, who held the Rockies to one run and five hits in six innings, but saw the arc headed toward the seats turn into a drop into the glove of Burrell on the warning track.
"I hit it all right, probably enough to get it out on a normal day, but that wind was blowing in pretty good," Atkins said. "It was a tough night to hit."
Jimenez, 23, called up in August because of injuries to the rotation, escaped a one-out, two-on sixth by forcing a Burrell fly ball and a Ryan Howard grounder.
It was similar to Sunday in the scheduled regular-season finale against the Diamondbacks, a 4-3 Rockies victory that set up a Wild Card tiebreaker victory over the Padres the next night. Jimenez held the D-backs to one run and fanned 10 in 6 1/3 innings.
The calm Jimenez was thrown only by the blackout, but he found it more humorous.
"I was like, 'What? What is happening right now? C'mon,'" he said. "I felt great. I didn't want the game to stop."
Reliever Matt Herges finished off the seventh after Carlos Ruiz singled off Jimenez. Winning pitcher Brian Fuentes fanned Jimmy Rollins to start his perfect eighth, before retiring Chase Utley on a flyout to left. Burrell would then narrowly miss a homer when his blast blew just foul to left. He would eventually strike out to end the inning.
"As soon as he hit it, I thought was gone," Fuentes said. "As soon as he hit it, I thought that somebody upstairs, a grandfather or something, blew that thing up. They're up there. Thank you for doing that."
Manny Corpas, who earned saves in all three games, struck out leadoff man Howard and worked grounders from Aaron Rowand and Victorino.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.