With 19 games remaining in the regular season and facing a six-game deficit in the division, the Philadelphia Phillies admit the NL East may be beyond their grasp.
Still hoping for a shot at the wild card, the Phillies look to continue separating themselves from another playoff contender—the Colorado Rockies—as a four-game series continues Tuesday.
The Phillies (76-67) opened the set against Colorado with a 6-5, 10-inning victory on Monday. The Rockies (74-69) had taken a 3-1 lead after a fifth-inning home run by Troy Tulowitzki, but Pat Burrell tied the game at 5 in the seventh with a three-run homer before Ryan Howard hit a game-winning double that sent Philadelphia to its third straight win after it had dropped five of the previous six.
Howard, who had just two hits in his last 19 at-bats, also homered in the sixth inning.
With the win, the Phillies moved within 1 1/2 games of the idle San Diego Padres for the wild card lead. Philadelphia remains six games behind the NL East-leading New Mets, who beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2 Monday.
“I think we’ve kind of shifted our attention away from the Mets,” Burrell said. “I think six games at this point is too much. So we had to regroup. Sometimes that’s hard.”
The Rockies are now 3 1/2 games behind the leaders.
Philadelphia has won eight of its last nine at home. This seven-game homestand concludes Thursday against the Rockies. The Phillies then begin a 10-game road trip on Friday against the Mets. They also face the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals during that trip.
“We’ve got to keep winning and playing hard,” said Burrell, who has five hits—including three homers—and nine RBIs during the first four games of this homestand.
Philadelphia is 42-30 at home, the third-best home record in the National League.
The Phillies will try to extend their winning streak by sending the struggling Adam Eaton (9-8, 6.28 ERA) to the mound. Eaton is making his first start since Sept. 2, when he faced the Florida Marlins. He pitched six innings in that game, allowing five runs and six hits—including three home runs—but didn’t receive a decision in the 7-6 loss, his second start since coming off the 15-day disabled list due to an inflamed right shoulder.
“I just made some bad pitches out there,” Eaton told the Phillies’ official Web site. “And when I did make some good pitches, they hit them out.”
Eaton has not won since July 20 against the Padres. The pushing back of this start wasn’t about his struggles, however. Manager Charlie Manuel wanted him available to pitch against the Mets, whom he has pitched well against.
The right-hander is 8-11 with a 6.29 ERA in 24 career starts against the Rockies. He allowed four runs and eight hits in six innings against them July 8 in an 8-4 win at Coors Field.
Franklin Morales (0-2, 6.23) counters for the Rockies, making his fifth major league start. Morales was called up to deal with injuries to Colorado’s rotation last month. His longest start was 5 1-3 innings against the Dodgers in his debut on Aug. 18, but he lasted just three innings last Tuesday against the Giants, allowing a season-high five runs and five hits before the Rockies rallied for a 6-5 win.
Morales has never faced the Phillies.