Lidge perfect, Street blows save; Phillies win
DENVER – All of a sudden, the crumbling closer was wearing purple pinstripes instead of Phillies red and white.
Brad Lidge retired Troy Tulowitzki for the final out for the second straight night, sending Philadelphia to the NL championship series with a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies.
Lidge’s second save Monday – the other came just past midnight in Game 3 – was sweet redemption for the Phillies closer who went from perfect a year ago to perfectly awful in 2009.
He converted all 48 save chances last year, capped when he struck out Tampa Bay’s Eric Hinske in Game 5 to clinch the Phillies’ World Series title. But he lost his perfect touch this season – he led the majors with 11 blown saves, went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and briefly lost his job in September.
Now, he’s perfect in the postseason once again.
“I’ve said it before, people go through ups and downs. As long as he’s throwing well for us right now, that’s all that matters,” Ryan Howard said.
Howard hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning off Huston Street and scored on Jayson Werth’s single as Philadelphia rallied past the resilient Rockies in Game 4 on Monday to reach the NL championship series.
“Was it a good pitch to Howard? No, it wasn’t my best pitch,” Street said. “It wasn’t painted on the knees at the black. But it was down and it was out. He’s a good hitter. Sometimes you get beat.”
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 for another champagne shower.
“We know we have a long ways to go,” Jimmy Rollins said. “So this is the last party.”
Next, the World Series champions play Thursday night against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium in an NLCS rematch from last season.
The Rockies thought they had sent the series back to Philly for a decisive Game 5 when they rallied for three runs with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, capped by Yorvit Torrealba’s two-run double.
“We thought we were going to pull this out and hop on a plane,” Todd Helton said. “It didn’t work.”
Because Street, who saved 35 games in 37 chances during the season, blew it in the ninth again, one night after taking the loss in Game 3 when Howard hit a sacrifice fly to give the Phillies a 6-5 win.
On his way out of the clubhouse Monday night, Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd stopped by and gave Street an embrace, followed by some words of encouragement.
“We wouldn’t have gotten here without you. You just keep that in mind,” O’Dowd said. “I’m really proud of you.”
Street, who came to Colorado from Oakland in the Matt Holliday trade last winter, was within a strike of winning before walking Chase Utley and then serving up Howard’s big hit with two strikes.
“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.
Colorado erased a 2-1 deficit in the eighth with a three-run rally that began when Dexter Fowler hurdled Utley at second base. Utley stepped into the basepath to field Todd Helton’s slow grounder, and his quick flip to second base was wide right and mishandled for an error by Rollins.
That chased starter Cliff Lee and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi tied it with an RBI single off Ryan Madson before Torrealba’s two-run double.
“No one got rattled and no one was worried,” Werth said. “Going back to ’07, we got swept by the Rockies and I think everybody learned a lesson. Everybody knew what we had to do.”
The Phillies, who led the National League in homers for the second straight season with a franchise-record 224, got long balls from Shane Victorino and Werth off Ubaldo Jimenez as they built a 2-0 lead.
The Rockies made it 2-1 in the sixth on an RBI double by Tulowitzki.
NOTES: The Phillies are 50-33 on the road and 6-2 in their last eight road playoff games. … Philadelphia won last year’s NLCS in five games.
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