Resilient Rockies hold on to even NLDS
Gonzalez sets tone with three hits, Torrealba goes deep
PHILADELPHIA -- The Rockies have this habit of facing ominous situations and turning them in their favor. They went from 10 games under .500 at one point this season to the playoffs.
They turned the face of the National League Division Series upside down on Thursday afternoon.
With a 5-4 victory over the defending World Series champion Phillies at Citizens Bank Park, when they faced down a couple of rallies and another record crowd, the Rockies head home with the best-of-5 series tied at a game apiece.
"This is what you dream of -- to play very important games in a different city, with everybody against you," said left fielder Carlos Gonzalez, who had three hits, including a double, and has five hits in the first two games of the series.
The Phillies know better than most anyone how a series heading to Coors is a dangerous one. In 2007, the Rockies swept them in the NLDS, winning Game 3 at home.
For Saturday night's Game 3, the Rockies -- who looked listless against the Phillies' Cliff Lee in Wednesday afternoon's 5-1 loss in Game 1 -- will be in Coors Field, in front of their fans.
And if the weather report is correct, the Rockies will be playing in freezing temperatures and snow. But maybe they could do without the frightful weather.
"I don't think anybody likes playing in the cold that much, but hopefully it'll be a little bit of an advantage," said Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook, who pitched five strong innings before turning the game over to a bullpen that has become rock-solid even though much of it was constructed after the season began.
Of course, it gets cold and snowy in Philadelphia, too. And the Phillies have battled at times -- a team isn't the defending champion if it isn't battle-tested.
"Two teams have to play, and I've seen us play in cold weather here," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
Gonzalez, who became an offensive leader during the second half, had two of the Rockies' six hits in Game 1, and went 3-for-5 Thursday. Rookie center fielder Dexter Fowler, who moved from leadoff in Game 1 to second in a swap with Gonzalez, drove in two runs on sacrifice flies.
A game like Thursday's is not complete without an unlikely standout. Catcher Yorvit Torrealba knocked his first home run in five months -- a two-run shot in the fourth inning off Phils ace Cole Hamels, who gave up four runs in five innings.
"I forgot when was the last time I hit a home run," quipped Torrealba, who went deep against the Giants' Randy Johnson way back on May 6 at Coors Field. "They [his teammates] don't even believe it. I don't believe it myself, I'm telling you."
The Rockies had to believe until the end. Jayson Werth homered off reliever Rafael Betancourt with two down in the eighth to make it one-run game. Finally, with two out and runners at first and second in the ninth, closer Huston Street worked Shane Victorino into a soft liner to second baseman Clint Barmes.
The Rockies made the most of their seven hits off Hamels, who struck out five. Gonzalez scratched out a first-inning run with a single, a steal of second, a Fowler sacrifice bunt and Todd Helton's fielder's choice chopper. Hamels fielded it, instead of taking a chance it would roll foul, but threw late to the plate.
|Gm. 1||PHI 5, COL 1||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 2||COL 5, PHI 4||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 3||PHI 6, COL 5||Wrap||Video|
|Gm. 4||PHI 5, COL 4||Wrap||Video|
After Torrealba's surprising shot in the fourth, the Rockies manufactured a run in the fifth. Cook singled with one out, took third on Gonzalez's double, and scored on Fowler's fly ball.
"We had to come out and execute," said Fowler, whose one-out sac fly in the seventh scored Ryan Spilborghs, who had doubled to start the frame. "Some of the stuff we did in this game, we didn't do yesterday."
Cook gave up baserunners in each of the first five innings, but never had one advance beyond first base. He struck out four -- all with a runner on -- and forced two double plays. But to open the sixth, Victorino and Chase Utley singled, and Ryan Howard doubled for one run. Jose Contreras gave up Ibanez's two-run single, but escaped the inning.
Rockies reliever Matt Belisle, who spent most of the season in the Minors before earning a playoff roster spot with a strong final three weeks, threw a perfect seventh. Franklin Morales, who also spent time in the Minors, replaced Betancourt after the Werth homer and forced an Ibanez grounder.
Street walked his nemesis, Matt Stairs (4-for-8, two homers against Street career) with one out in the ninth, and gave up a two-out Jimmy Rollins single, but escaped when Victorino hit the ball softly to Barmes.
Street, who converted 35 of 37 save chances during the regular season, notched his third career postseason save, the first two with the Athletics before being traded to the Rockies last winter.
"There's home-field advantage for a reason, but you've still got to play good baseball," Street said.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.