Bullpen dooms Rox in homecoming
Relievers give up lead in eighth, tagged for five in two innings
DENVER -- The Rockies that fell to the Phillies, 9-5, on Monday night at Coors Field in front of a crowd of 24,886 are mostly the same Rox club that swept the Phils in last year's National League Division Series.
The firepower capability is still there, as the Rockies demonstrated with Yorvit Torrealba's three-run homer in the second inning and Garrett Atkins' two-run homer in the fifth inning, his third in four games. The talent showed during a 5-4 road trip, when the Rockies shed some of their early offensive struggles.
But the Rockies (9-10) lost the opener of a two-game series and four-game homestand and fell to a game below .500 because of something that wasn't part of last season's makeup -- lapses in execution.
Here are some examples:
Starting pitcher Mark Redman struck out five and forced nine ground-ball outs, but three of the four fly balls off him were home runs -- a two-run Pat Burrell shot in the fourth, a Jayson Werth inside-the-park homer to lead off the sixth and a Chase Utley shot immediately after Werth's.
"I just wanted to come out there in the sixth inning, especially after scoring two runs, and lock something down, and that wasn't the case," said Redman, who left after the Utley's homer, leaving four innings to a bullpen that has been worked hard lately.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who had six RBIs in the last five games and showed signs of breaking out of a season-long slump, hit infield grounders to end scoring threats. On the more damaging at-bat, Scott Podsednik was at third and Willy Taveras at first. Instead of letting Taveras steal and force the Phils' hand, Tulowitzki grounded Clay Condrey's first pitch for a double play.
"I'm not doing a very good job right now," Tulowitzki said. "The past couple of games, it seems like that's the only part I've done well at, with runners in scoring position. I just have to keep working. It's not an easy game."
Reliever Taylor Buchholz (1-1), on a streak of seven scoreless appearances, entered in the seventh and retired seven straight, two with strikeouts. But he gave up singles to Ryan Howard and Burrell, and walked Pedro Feliz in five bad-looking pitches. Carlos Ruiz's double off Brian Fuentes gave the Phils a 6-5 lead.
"I got those two outs and I wasn't able to make the pitches I needed to make when I needed to," he said. "I really wasn't able to throw my curveball for a strike tonight. I was kind of feeling, both innings, with it."
Buchholz might've been saved -- and Fuentes might have been spared from absorbing a blown save for the second straight game -- had a Rockies defense shifted to the right side corralled Howard's bouncer. But the ball ticked off first baseman Todd Helton and past second baseman Clint Barmes.
It would have taken a stellar play, but the Rox are capable of such.
The Phillies also showed their capabilities, even though 2007 NL Most Valuable Player Jimmy Rollins and outfielder Shane Victorino are on the 15-day disabled list. They finished with 13 hits.
"There's not really a break," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said about the Phillies' lineup. "They have a good offensive club. They have a good ball team."
That was enough for their five pitchers, including Rudy Seanez (2-1). It was also a big night for Utley, who joined Dick Allen (1969), Mike Schmidt (1979) and Bobby Abreu (2005) as the only Phillies to homer in five straight games. Utley's diving stop of Barmes' hard bouncer sparked a double play that snuffed out a third-inning threat.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.