Phillies rally in ninth to capture NLDS crown
Published 1:08 am Tuesday, October 13, 2009
DENVER — Chase Utley ducked near second base. The rest of the Philadelphia Phillies never flinched.
Ryan Howard hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning and scored on Jayson Werth’s single as Philadelphia rallied past the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in Game 4 on Monday night to reach the NL championship series.
Brad Lidge, bouncing back from a rugged regular season, earned his second consecutive save by again retiring cleanup batter Troy Tulowitzki with runners at first and second for the final out.
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Tulowitzki, who flied out to end Game 3, struck out this time and the Phillies celebrated on the infield at chilly Coors Field before retreating to the clubhouse to spray champagne.
Next, the World Series champions play Thursday night against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium in an NLCS rematch from last season. This marked the fourth straight year that none of baseball’s first-round series went to a winner-take-all Game 5.
‘‘These couple of games have been kind of character builders,’’ Howard said. ‘‘This is just step two of where we’re trying to get to.’’
After Dexter Fowler’s hurdle of Utley sparked Colorado’s three-run rally in the eighth, Howard and the Phillies responded with a three-run rally of their own against closer Huston Street.
Street was 35 of 37 on save chances this season, but took the loss in Game 3 when he allowed Howard’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth. He came in again to face the Phillies, and trouble followed.
Jimmy Rollins singled with one out and Utley drew a two-out walk on a full count. Howard tied it with two strikes when he doubled to the right-field wall. Werth followed with a soft single to right-center.
‘‘We were a strike away from making a trip to Philadelphia,’’ lamented Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who went 74-42 after taking over when Clint Hurdle was fired May 29.
The Phillies, the NL’s best road team, swept both games at Coors Field, where the wild-card Rockies went 44-17 under Tracy’s tutelage.