Polanco raised both arms in the air and jumped twice. Papelbon was the first teammate to reach him, and good vibes spilled onto the field from the home dugout.
With two outs in the ninth, it looked dead - just as many Phillies games have. Ty Wigginton poked a single to left and easily scored the tying run on Pence's drive to left off Rockies closer Rafael Betancourt.
An intentional walk and infield single pushed Polanco to the plate. He tapped one up the middle. Marco Scutaro's throw was not off line, but Helton contorted himself in a way that did not place either foot on the bag. Polanco was safe.
Charlie Manuel's team is scoring more than any National League club since May 1, but the manager saw plenty of room for improvement before Wednesday's win.
"It's been hard for us to play late in the game," he said.
His wish was granted. Papelbon stumbled by allowing a run in the top of the ninth, and his teammates atoned. Joe Blanton was not sharp when Colorado mashed three home runs in seven innings, but the offense supported him.
For much of the night, a defeatist tone permeated the ballpark. Chris Nelson's swat sent the most groans through Citizens Bank Park. He momentarily put Colorado ahead in the fourth by jacking a first-pitch Blanton slider.
Blanton kicked the dirt in front of the mound and asked for a new ball from the home-plate umpire. Then he stared into space, with a quick glance at the Rockies dugout as if to wonder, "Do you know what's coming when I throw it?"
It marked the eighth consecutive start Blanton had surrendered a long ball. Only Randy Wolf, Bruce Chen, Dennis Cook, and Don Carman have endured longer streaks in modern Phillies history. In Blanton's first six starts, opposing hitters managed only one home run. They have belted 16 in his previous eight outings.
The righthander has minimized damage, though, mostly because of a stellar strikeout-to-walk ratio that has limited baserunners. Of the 17 homers he has allowed in 2012, 12 have been solo shots.
Wilin Rosario's blast in the second inning was not. The Rockies catcher belted a three-run bomb on a fat 91-m.p.h. fastball that landed in the Phillies bullpen. Michael Martinez stroked one of his own a half-inning later - his first homer since Sept. 1, 2011 - meaning both No. 8 hitters traded three-run homers in the second.
It was a night for offense.
The ingredients in addition to Blanton were a stifling heat (temperature at first pitch was 95 degrees) and a dreadful Rockies pitching staff. Without five competent starters, manager Jim Tracy is experimenting with a four-man rotation. His starters are capped at 75 pitches, and once Alex White hit that mark Wednesday, his night was done. He recorded 11 outs.
That's when Colorado started posting zeroes. Jeremy Guthrie, so bad in 2012 he forced Tracy to reinvent the modern game, tossed three scoreless innings. Only one Phillies runner reached base, and that was on an error.
Blanton settled down, too. He retired the final 11 batters he faced after Nelson's homer.
Contact Matt Gelb
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