Near Things: Rockies 5, Phillies 4

The Phillies' streak of eight straight postseason wins at home came to an end Thursday as the Rockies hit Cole Hamels early and held on for dear life late to even the NLDS at one game apiece. Catcher Yorbit Torrealba, a star of the 2007 series between the teams, had the biggest hit off Hamels with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, and rookie outfielder Carlos Gonzalez got three hits for the visitors.

Rockies starter Aaron Cook held the Phillies off the board for five innings with the help of some timely double play balls. But with a 4-0 lead in the sixth, Cook lost it in a hurry: Shane Victorino led off the inning and reached on a Clint Barmes throwing error, moved to third on a Chase Utley single, and scored on Ryan Howard's RBI double. Jose Contreras came on in relief of Cook and struck out Jayson Werth, but surrendered a two-run first-pitch single to Raul Ibanez that made it 4-3. Pedro Feliz followed with a bloop single, but a Carlos Ruiz double play ended the threat. 

Hamels, perhaps distracted by the impending birth of his first child--he left the park with the game still in progress as his wife went into labor--gave a performance uncannily similar to many of his regular season starts. Bad luck put him behind 1-0 in the first inning, as Colorado scored on a Gonzalez seeing-eye single, a stolen base after Hamels seemed to pick the runner off but Howard couldn't make the throw to second, a sacrifice bunt, and a dribbler off the bat of Todd Helton. He recovered to dominate over the next two innings, but with two outs in the fourth and a runner on first, he hung a curveball to Torrealba that the light-hitting catcher deposited over the left-field wall for his first home run since May. The Rockies added another run an inning later on a Dexter Fowler sacrifice fly. 

With his starter out early, Charlie Manuel proceeded to manage the game like elimination was on the line. He went to Joe Blanton for the sixth, then pulled Blanton with runners on the corners and no outs in the seventh--in favor of J.A. Happ, his other presumed possible Game Three starter. Happ lasted one batter, taking a Seth Smith line drive off his ankle before coming out. (X-rays were negative.) Scott Eyre came on with the bases loaded to strike out Gonzalez, but Fowler added another sac fly to put Colorado up 5-3 before the veteran lefty escaped. Brett Myers and Antonio Bastardo then tiptoed through an eighth-inning minefield, the rookie Bastardo striking out Jason Giambi with the bases loaded to end the frame.

The Phillies had one more charge in them. Jayson Werth homered off Rafael Betancourt in the eighth to make it 5-4, and after Ryan Madson set down the Rockies in order, Matt Stairs drew a one-out walk against Houston Street in the ninth. After a Miguel Cairo flyout, Jimmy Rollins singled to right, pushing pinch-runner Cliff Lee to second. But Shane Victorino lined out to Barmes, ending the game.

So the series shifts to Colorado for Game Three in possible ice and snow conditions, with Jason Hammel tapped for the Rockies and... Happ? Pedro Martinez? You? to start for the Phils.  

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