Howard's homer in 9th lifts Phillies past Rockies

Jimmy Rollins tosses his bat after drawing a first-inning walk off Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles. It was Rollins' 2,000th career game.
Jimmy Rollins tosses his bat after drawing a first-inning walk off Rockies pitcher Jordan Lyles. It was Rollins' 2,000th career game. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: May 30, 2014

Before Chase Utley tied it, and before Ryan Howard sealed a dramatic, 6-3 victory Wednesday for the Phillies, there was Mike Adams to inherit the most daunting scenario possible. He grabbed the baseball from Ryne Sandberg. He confronted pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez with the bases loaded and no one out in the seventh inning.

"Our backs against the wall," Sandberg said.

Gonzalez tapped into a 1-2-3 double play. Adams yelled and pointed one finger at Howard to signal, "One more." Troy Tulowitzki struck out on a curveball, and Howard leaped. The dugout converged around Adams to congratulate the 35-year-old righthander, still less than a year removed from major shoulder surgery.

"That's huge," Adams said. "Hopefully we can carry on from that. You saw what happened there at the end."

The end was Howard's time. He clubbed Colorado lefthander Boone Logan for a three-run, game-winning homer. Rockies centerfielder Drew Stubbs just watched the ball fly deep into the chilly night. The few fans who remained at the end of a 3-hour, 46-minute marathon jumped to celebrate. A.J. Burnett hit Howard with a shaving-cream pie. For once, there was some excitement inside Citizens Bank Park.

It was not until Colorado forgot how to catch a baseball that the path toward a Phillies victory emerged in the ninth. Second baseman Josh Rutledge misfired to first on a routine one-out grounder by Tony Gwynn Jr. Ben Revere singled, and Colorado manager Walt Weiss yanked his closer, LaTroy Hawkins, when Utley strode to the plate.

Weiss wanted Boone Logan, the lefthander who allowed Revere's first homer Tuesday, to oppose Utley with the tying run at second. Utley worked a 3-0 count, smashed a fastball foul, and roped a single to right to tie it.

"I was just watching Chase's at-bat," Howard said. "I wanted to follow him up, try to have a good at-bat, not make the last out, and get a good pitch to hit."

Howard fouled off a 2-2 slider. Logan countered with a 93-m.p.h. fastball, and Howard crushed it for his fifth walk-off homer and first since 2010.

The Phillies won a series at home for the first time in five tries. Jake Diekman surrendered a tie game in the eighth, but had Adams failed in the seventh, the ninth-inning comeback would have been moot.

Adams has a 2.35 ERA in 151/3 innings with 18 strikeouts and four walks.

"He's been playing a role in big situations," Sandberg said. "He's used to that. He pinpoints his pitches and attacks the hitters."

For an inning, the Rockies thought a D.J. LeMahieu homer on a Diekman slider was enough for victory. Diekman has permitted four homers in 2014, three of which were hit by righties. All three were hit on sliders, a pitch that is devastating to lefthanded hitters but not as effective against the opposite hand. Sandberg questioned Diekman's pitch selection.

Adams is Sandberg's lone trusted option for righthanded setup relief. That means more righties for Diekman, who is best against lefties. His on-base plus slugging percentage vs. lefties (.324) was 500 points lower than against righties (.824) before Wednesday.

Antonio Bastardo's recent follies complicate things. He became the first Phillies pitcher since Bruce Ruffin in 1989 to walk four hitters in a five-batter appearance. Bastardo has 18 walks in 23 innings, which nears his total of 21 in 422/3 innings last season.

Adams minimized a potential disaster. Pitching coach Bob McClure visited the mound after Gonzalez's double play. He offered Adams the option of walking Tulowitzki, the league's leader in just about everything. Adams declined.

"I'm not going to back down from anybody," Adams said. "I ain't scared. I don't care who you are. That's what this is about. It's competition. I feel I'm better than the person at the plate. I'm not going to back down from whoever it is."

Tulowitzki struck out on three pitches. An hour later, Howard found Adams in the winning clubhouse and the two men hugged.

"Today was fun," Adams said. "Today was a whole lot of fun."


mgelb@phillynews.com

@magelb www.inquirer.com/

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