Miscues sting Rockies in walk-off loss to Phils
Pair of ninth-inning errors set stage for game-ending home run
PHILADELPHIA -- The Rockies' clutch hitting went missing again Wednesday night. Neither Carlos Gonzalez nor Troy Tulowitzki could fix it, nor could a totally unexpected home run from DJ LeMahieu.
LeMahieu's eighth-inning shot, his first dinger in 84 games, gave the Rockies a one-run lead on a night when they blew many chances to open breathing room. But errors by second baseman Josh Rutledge and Tulowitzki set the stage for Ryan Howard's three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth that gave the Phillies a 6-3 victory at Citizens Bank Park in front of 23,691.
It was the ninth homer of the season and the fifth career walk-off homer for Howard. The defensive mistakes and Howard's clutch blast cost the Rockies a chance to win their first regular-season series at Citizens Bank Park since April 8-12, 2004.
"We had a bunch of opportunities to put that game away, and we didn't do it," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We left a lot of runners on base. In the end, that's what got us."
The Rockies left 15 on base and went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. For the road trip, they're 4-for-48 with runners in scoring position -- a key reason they're 2-4 going into the final three games of the trip starting Friday night in Cleveland.
"I was thinking about this earlier," Tulowitzki said. "For how bad of a road trip this seemed, we were really close to winning this game and this series.
"If we win this game, were .500 on this road trip, which really isn't that bad for a trip that feels like those when you came back 2-7."
The biggest missed opportunity came in the seventh, when normally dependable Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo walked the bases loaded with no outs. That rally fizzled when Gonzalez, who didn't start after fouling a pitch off his right calf Tuesday night, bounced to pitcher Mike Adams to start a 1-2-3 double play, and Tulowitzki struck out.
Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure gave Adams the option of walking Tulo there. He said no chance.
"I'm not going to back down from anybody," Adams said. "I ain't scared. I don't care who you are."
Weiss tried going without two of the team's stars. Gonzalez reported feeling better Wednesday, but Weiss opted to rest him. Weiss also decided Tulowitzki, who leads all NL players in All-Star Game voting, needed a rest -- although he didn't ask for it.
Tulowitzki stayed in the game after his strikeout and made a backhanded grab and leaping throw to retire Carlos Ruiz to end the eighth, but his drop of Jimmy Rollins' foul pop was part of the sloppy ninth.
The Rockies nearly had the game won. LeMahieu powered a slider from Phillies left-hander Jake Diekman into the left-field seats with one out in the eighth. The last time LeMahieu went deep was last Aug. 12 against Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez -- 301 at-bats before his go-ahead homer.
It wasn't as long a drought as the Phillies' Ben Revere went through before hitting his first career homer on Tuesday night -- 1,465. But like Revere's homer the night before, LeMahieu's came in a loss.
All LeMahieu could do was look forward to Cleveland.
"We go in there and win the series, there's some momentum going back home again," LeMahieu said. "It would be big for us."
With LaTroy Hawkins (2-1) pitching, Rutledge, who moved from short to second when Tulowitzki entered, threw wildly to first on Tony Gwynn Jr.'s grounder. Revere followed with a single before Tulowitzki dropped the foul ball off the bat off Rollins.
"We're a very good defensive club," Weiss said. "It was uncharacteristic, but it happens. We struggled putting outs away in that ninth inning."
The Rockies went to lefty Boone Logan to face left-handed-hitting Chase Utley, who singled Gwynn home to tie the game. Howard pushed the count to 2-2 before driving Logan's fastball over the left-center field wall.
"It looked like he was struggling with his command just a tad bit," Howard said.
"We were one out away from winning that game, but Utley put a great at-bat together, and so did Howard," Tulowitzki said. "And sometimes you have to tip your hat to the other team. They are two good players that have done it for a long time."
It was the first time Weiss has pulled Hawkins with a save possible.
"I decided when the inning started that if it got to Utley, I was going to go get Boone," Weiss said. "Both [Utley] and Howard crush righties. I felt that was our best matchup, to go get Boone. 'Hawk' did a great job. We should've been out of that inning, but it didn't happen."
Hawkins didn't question the move when asked.
"Did it bother me?" Hawkins said. "No, because when I signed here, I'll do whatever I need to do for the team to be successful, and I trust Walt. He had a gut. It just didn't work out. This happens. We could easily be having a different conversation right now -- easily."
Justin Morneau homered on Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez's first pitch of the third inning. It was Morneau's 10th homer of this season. Corey Dickerson drew a walk and Wilin Rosario, whose three-run homer broke open Tuesday night's 6-2 victory, doubled for a 2-0 lead.
Rockies right-hander Jordan Lyles labored -- 103 pitches in five innings. He gave up two runs on RBI singles in the third to Howard and in the fifth to Marlon Byrd.
"I can't go [only] five innings," said Lyles, who fanned five but yielded five hits and four walks (one intentional). "The last three outings, too many balls, too many high counts. I made the bullpen throw four innings."