Utley, 6 relievers lead Phillies over Rockies 12-4
PHILADELPHIA (AP)—Charlie Manuel stepped out of the dugout, tossed his gum and took a slow stroll to the mound.
It was only the second inning and it appeared the Phillies and their manager were in for another long night. But Geoff Geary and five other relievers came through in a clutch spot.
Geary (2-2) pitched three scoreless innings after starter J.D. Durbin lasted just one inning, and a total of six relievers allowed one run and two hits in eight innings.
“It was an interesting start, but we survived,” Manuel said.
The Phillies moved within 1 1/2 games of San Diego in the NL wild-card standings. The Padres lost 6-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are tied with the Phillies. The Rockies fell one game behind Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
It was an important win for the Phillies after getting outscored 20-2 in consecutive losses. They’re 6 1/2 games behind the NL East-leading Mets, and head to New York needing a three-game sweep to keep alive their slim division hopes.
The Phillies swept a four-game series against the Mets two weeks ago to move within two games of New York, but are 6-7 since.
“We’re closer to San Diego, but we can make it interesting,” Manuel said.
Rockies starter Jeff Francis (15-8) couldn’t make it out of the fourth. Jimmy Rollins singled to start the inning. He broke early for second, but first baseman Todd Helton dropped the throw from Francis and Rollins got his 32nd steal.
Utley, the NL’s leading hitter with a .338 average, then ripped his 19th homer to give the Phillies a 6-3 lead. After Pat Burrell singled, Ryan Howard flied out to deep center and Aaron Rowand walked to end Francis’ night.
“These two teams are very similar,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “Both have holes. Both have strengths.”
But the Phillies scored three times to take an 11-4 lead in the bottom half of the inning. Rowand had an RBI single, Ramon Ortiz hit Werth with a pitch with the bases loaded to force in a run and Greg Dobbs added a sacrifice fly.
Philadelphia’s Antonio Alfonseca was ejected after his high-and-tight pitch hit Helton in the arm with two outs in the seventh. Hurdle said the umpires didn’t issue a warning after Ortiz hit Werth. Utley was hit in the second inning.
Francis allowed eight runs and eight hits in 3 1-3 innings. The left-hander came in with a 2.31 ERA in his previous five starts and had pitched 13 straight scoreless innings on the road.
“I felt fine, but the ball wasn’t going where I wanted,” Francis said. “It’s disappointing for everybody.”
Francis likely will make three more starts, giving him a chance to set the team record for wins in a season. Kevin Ritz (1996) and Pedro Astacio (1999) both had 17.
Durbin exited after allowing consecutive singles to start the second. Geary entered and got the hot-hitting Matt Holliday to ground into a double play. He also retired Holliday on a fly ball to right to leave two runners on in the fourth.
“Everyone goes through struggles,” said Geary, who shuttled back-and-forth a few times between Triple-A Ottawa and the majors this season. “I was throwing strikes and getting ahead of people.”
Durbin allowed three runs, five hits and walked three in one-plus innings— the third straight outing he hasn’t reached the fifth.
Rollins, trying to become the first player in major league history with 40 doubles, 20 triples, 30 homers and 30 steals in one season, got robbed of his 18th triple in the sixth inning.
Center fielder Cory Sullivan dived for Rollins’ liner in the gap, but replays clearly showed the ball squirted out of Sullivan’s glove when he landed on the ground. Rollins never stopped running and was standing on third, but the play was ruled a catch.
Francis already had a 3-0 lead and went to the plate before he took the mound. He struck out looking to leave the bases loaded in the first.
The Phillies answered with four runs in their half of the inning. Utley, who reached on a fielder’s choice, scored on a passed ball. Rowand followed with an RBI single and Wes Helms hit a two-run double off the top of the fence in right-center to make it 4-3.
Durbin, pitching for his fourth team this year, is 6-5 with a 6.46 ERA. … Holliday’s homer streak ended at four games. … Manuel became the third-fastest manager to win 250 games with the Phillies.
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