DENVER -- The Coors Field crowd emitted a hopeful gasp as David Dahl's opposite-way fly ball to left field kissed the sky. Then it descended just about a foot beyond the wall on a night and at a time when the world is falling the Rockies' way.Dahl's third-inning three-run homer
DENVER -- The Coors Field crowd emitted a hopeful gasp as David Dahl's opposite-way fly ball to left field kissed the sky. Then it descended just about a foot beyond the wall on a night and at a time when the world is falling the Rockies' way.
Dahl's third-inning three-run homer helped the Rockies win their fifth straight game, 10-3, over the Phillies, vaulting them into the second National League Wild Card position and to just a half-game back of the NL West-leading Dodgers.
The Rockies, a 26-season-old club that has never won a division title, have five regular-season games left, at home against the now-eliminated Phillies for two more and Nationals for three, and are tied with Los Angeles in the loss column.
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"The game's on right now," Dahl said, looking up at the Dodgers-D-backs on TV while being interviewed. "You definitely want to keep up, but you try not to get too into it. You want to come to the field every day and win. Because now we control our destiny, so we've got to keep winning."
Dahl -- who went 3-for-5 with four RBIs -- led a 14-hit attack that powered Colorado on the same night the Cardinals dropped behind them in the Wild Card race with a 12-4 loss to the Brewers, and the Dodgers lost to the D-backs, 4-3, on Eduardo Escobar's walk-off home run off Kenta Maeda.
Dahl's 12th homer of the season was a repeat of his opposite-way homer in Monday's 10-1 game -- doubtful until it dropped into fan land.
"I didn't really think I got it, but I'm glad I did," Dahl said.
Charlie Blackmon extended his career-best hit streak to 17 games with two hits, including an RBI double, DJ LeMahieu had a pair of RBI singles and Carlos Gonzalez emerged from the bench for a fifth-inning two-run double for his first RBIs since a bases-loaded triple against the Giants on Sept. 4. All the offense was needed on a night when the Rockies used seven relievers.
The timing of Dahl's homer, off Vince Velasquez (9-12) with the Rockies down, 1-0, was significant.
"People don't talk about momentum enough," said Blackmon, who singled two batters before Dahl's homer. "That was one of those moments where we captured the momentum."
Because lefty Tyler Anderson's shoulder injury -- which pushed him out of Monday's start -- left a hole in the rotation, Chad Bettis made his first start since Aug. 12 and gave up one unearned run while throwing 33 pitches over 2 2/3 innings. A walk and Trevor Story's error, both with two outs, led to the run.
"I felt as efficient as I could be," Bettis said. "If we would've gotten that one out, I'd have tried to talk my way into the fourth. But I don't know if that would've happened, though."
Bettis turned the game over to, eventually, seven relievers. DJ Johnson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third; Chris Rusin struck out three against two hits in two innings; Scott Oberg was scoreless for 1 2/3 innings; and Harrison Musgrave ended the eighth by forcing Justin Bour -- left-on-left -- into a double-play grounder.
"We knew what we were in for," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "It was a unique game in a lot of ways for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After Odubel Herrera's soft opposite-field single drove in an unearned run with two outs in the third inning, Bettis was replaced by Johnson, a 29-year-old rookie who spent his fair share of time in independent ball. Johnson didn't appear in Triple-A until this season and earned a September callup by posting a 3.90 ERA and earning 18 saves at Triple-A Albuquerque.
Staying careful with runners at first and second base, Johnson walked Rhys Hoskins to load the bases. Then he attacked the strike zone against Wilson Ramos, who worked the at-bat to seven pitches before grounding into a fielder's choice to leave the Rockies' deficit at 1-0. Dahl's homer gave Johnson his first Major League win.
"I didn't expect my name to be called in that situation, but Bud's No. 1 rule is to be ready for everything," Johnson said.
During Rockies' sweep last weekend at Arizona, Rusin started getting his chance to erase what had been a rough and painful season by performing in the week that matters most. He entered Tuesday with a 6.45 ERA during a season that has seen him made disabled list trips with an oblique strain and plantar fasciitis. He had had gone from one of the Majors' best and most versatile relievers last season to first a mop-up guy and then a lefty specialist of late.
But he knew he had this week.
"Bigger situations slowly had been showing up the last week or so," Rusin said. "I'm just trying to take advantage of those situations. Anyone can get in a game and help the team out."
Finally relaxed in his delivery, after all the fits and starts that came with the injuries, Rusin's misses are no longer dramatic and over the plate. On Tuesday night, he struck out three in the fourth inning and kept the fifth scoreless. By the time his book was closed, the Rockies had an 8-1 lead.
"We've got a few games to go, and we've got to make it all the way there." -- Black, on pulling Blackmon in the sixth inning, adding that the center fielder is healthy
Rockies starter German Marquez (13-10, 3.91 ERA) has a clear shot to find himself in the club's record book on Wednesday, when he faces the Phillies and right-hander Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.58) at Coors Field at 6:40 p.m. MT. Marquez has 210 strikeouts and is tied with Pedro Astacio in 1999 for second on the single-season list behind Ubaldo Jimenez's 214 in 2010. Of course, that's secondary to keeping alive his string of 11 consecutive quality starts and upholding his success in his last six home outings (3-1, 2.33).
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.