Rockies 5, Phillies 1
Tsao allowed two hits in six innings, and Todd Helton hit a three-run homer in the Colorado Rockies’ 5-1 victory over the Phillies on Wednesday night.
“I used a two-seam fastball that I had only recently been practicing,” Tsao said through an interpreter. “I used it for the first time and that was the difference.”
Tsao (2-0), the first Taiwanese pitcher in the major leagues, combined with three relievers on a five-hitter. Tsao struck out five and walked two and retired 10 straight during one stretch for his second win at Coors Field.
“The first two innings were a little bit of a grind,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “Then, he got into a good groove somewhere into the third inning.”
Marlon Byrd got the Phillies off to a good start with his first career leadoff homer, but Philadelphia was shut out the rest of the way. The loss reduced Philadelphia’s lead in the NL wild-card race to one game over Florida, which beat St. Louis 7-3.
“Usually, after a home run I correct myself,” Tsao said. “I slow down and start to relax and regain my mechanics.”
After Byrd’s homer put the Phillies ahead 1-0, the Rockies tied it in the bottom of the inning. Ronnie Belliard doubled to left, moved to third on Juan Uribe’s sacrifice and scored on a wild pitch by Kevin Duckworth (4-6).
“He was good and had a good slider,” Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa said of Tsao. “We had some good opportunities against him. He put some men on base early, but he made pitches when he had to.”
Duckworth, who allowed five runs and six hits in six innings, retired 10 in a row between a first-inning walk to Helton and Larry Walker’s two-out single to right in the fourth.
Duckworth couldn’t work out of trouble in the fifth after his own fielding error put runners on first and second. Charles Johnson drew a leadoff walk, and moved to second when Duckworth fielded Tsao’s bunt but the throw was in the dirt and first baseman Thome couldn’t handle it and both runners were safe. Duckworth retired the next two batters, but Helton drove a 3-2 fastball into Philadelphia’s bullpen in center for his 24th of the season.
“If I didn’t make that error, at least I could have kept the game close, like 2-1,” Duckworth said. “Then I made a bad choice in pitch selection and left the ball over the plate to a very good hitter.”
Johnson’s RBI double in the sixth inning made it 5-1.
“I pitched better tonight,” Tsao said. “Now I have to work out the habit of giving up leadoff home runs.”
Tsao has given homers to Eric Young of Milwaukee and Byrd to start the gamein his two starts at home.
Struggling Phillies closer Jose Mesa had his second bullpen session in as many days with pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Manager Larry Bowa said Mesa would not pitch in this series. … Colorado reliever Nelson Cruz will throw on the side Friday and face some hitters. … Infielder Mark Bellhorn, sidelined with tendinitis in his right shoulder, will begin a rehab assignment Thursdayin Triple-A Colorado Springs.