The Phillies took the first step toward a possible repeat world championship on the strength of performances by guys who were nowhere to be seen when the 2008 club reached the mountaintop. In his postseason debut, Cliff Lee pitched a complete game and came within one strike of a shutout, dominating the Rockies in a 5-1 win to claim the opener in the National League Division Series.
Lee dominated a lefty-heavy Rockies lineup, getting ahead of virtually every hitter all day long. After allowing three hits to the first seven Colorado hitters, Lee retired 16 in a row, not allowing another hit until Garrett Atkins doubled with two outs in the seventh. By then, the Phillies had a 5-0 lead, and he headed into the 9th working on a four-hitter with 96 pitches under his belt. Carlos Gonzalez singled with one out, and came around to score two batters later on Troy Tulowitzki's double. But Lee came back to strike out Atkins on a low-90s heater that ended it. He threw 114 pitches in all, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out five.
Through the first four innings, Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez was every bit as good as Lee, holding the Phils to just two singles--one by Lee himself, who then became the first Phillies pitcher ever to steal a base in the postseason. But the Phils got to Jimenez in the fifth, as Jayson Werth led off with a walk and Raul Ibanez, making his first playoff appearance since 2000, doubled past Todd Helton to drive him in. Two batters later, Carlos Ruiz scored Ibanez on a full-count single to right. In the sixth, the Phillies kayoed Jimenez as Chase Utley led off with a single and Ryan Howard followed with a drive to the wall in left that Gonzalez couldn't quite haul in, plating Utley and leaving Howard on second with a double. Werth then crushed what looked like a sure home run to left center, but the gusting wind pushed it toward the deepest part of the part--and it bounced off the top of the wall, just beyond the reach of Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler. Howard scored, with Werth having to settle for a triple. Jimenez gave way to Joe Beimel, and Ibanez greeted him with his second run-scoring hit in as many innings to stretch the lead to five.
With a first victory under their belts, the Phils will look to go up 2-0 tomorrow behind Cole Hamels. Aaron Cook starts for the Rockies.