video thumbnail

PHI@COL: Morneau ties game with two-run shot

DENVER -- Justin Morneau did everything he could to give the Rockies a clean sweep in Sunday's series finale with the Phillies. But a relentless lineup from Philadelphia was due and determined to turn the tables, ultimately battling to a 10-9 victory to put the skids on the Rockies' three-game winning streak and bring Colorado back to .500.

Morneau knocked in five runs on Sunday, including at least one in each of his first four trips to the plate. He drove in the tying run three times: in the first, third, and -- with a two-run home run off southpaw Jake Diekman -- the seventh.

"Mo's pretty locked in right now," manager Walt Weiss said. "That was a big homer off a really tough lefty in Diekman. A huge home run for us. Unfortunately we came up short, but we battled back a couple times. Both teams battled all day. It's a tough game, but the guys fought hard."

Morneau's prowess didn't keep the Phillies from pitching around Troy Tulowitzki in the eighth to face the first baseman again with the game on the line -- the tying run on second -- and left-hander Antonio Bastardo on the mound.

"That was Bastardo's all the way," manager Ryne Sandberg said of the decision. "Tulo, Morneau, pick your poison. But Tulo -- one swing and he's the tying run, even as the hitter. It worked out. But this is a special place where you have to do things a little different."

Colorado pitching had been dominant through the first two games of the series, allowing neither an earned run nor even an extra-base hit Friday or Saturday. But Philadelphia put the kibosh on that stat right away Sunday as Jimmy Rollins went yard in the game's first frame, sending a Juan Nicasio offering into the seats above the right field scoreboard for a solo homer and an early lead.

"It's a good lineup," Weiss said. "They weren't going to be down for long. They got a lot of dangerous hitters, and they swung the bats today."

The Rockies countered quickly, with Brandon Barnes hitting his first of three singles in the bottom of the inning. After Tulowitzki walked to move Barnes to second, Morneau plated him with a single to center to tie the game.

"We came out hot, and we're playing the game hard," Barnes said. "There were just some things that went wrong. Some timely hits by them. Being able to come back the way we did was good."

Barnes is part of an outfield rotation that has filled the top two spots of the batting order to the tune of a best-in-baseball .367 (58-for-158) pace through the Rockies' first 20 games. Charlie Blackmon has won the bulk of the starts in the leadoff slot, hitting .406 through Sunday, and with Carlos Gonzalez hitting third, the two-spot normally held by 2013 N.L. batting champ Michael Cuddyer has been a sweet spot to hit.

"Hitting in front of CarGo makes it -- I wouldn't say easy, but you're going to get some pitches to hit," Barnes said. "Hitting behind Blackie right now, he's doing something special, so being able to hit in between those guys is pretty special."

The slumbering Phillies' lumber had fully awakened by the third, when Chase Utley roped a two-out double into right off Nicasio and Ryan Howard slammed a 2-2 pitch just over the left field fence to give the Phils a two-run lead.

"Nicasio, he didn't have his best stuff today, but he gave us a chance to keep playing and competing," Gonzalez said.

Colorado again came back with another game-tying RBI from Morneau and padded its lead when the middle of the order came up again in the fifth. Barnes led off with his third single, then stole second and scored on Gonzalez's double to center. Tulowitzki pushed Gonzalez to third with a base hit to left, and Morneau recorded his third RBI in three trips to the plate with a sacrifice fly to center.

The Rockies ran themselves out of a potential big inning in the bottom of the sixth when Jordan Pacheco led off with a triple to center. Pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson slapped a hard grounder up the middle, but Rollins dove into the hole behind second to grab it and fired home to catch Pacheco in a rundown. The Phillies threw to second to get the advancing Dickerson, but the runner was called safe. Sandberg challenged the play, and upon review, the umpires overturned it, resulting in a 6-2-5-4 double play.

"That's a crazy play," Dickerson said. "[Utley] pushed me off the bag with his glove. I was already on the base. You never know when it's put in the replay's hands, but that's what the determination came out to be.

"I thought [the ball] was going to get through. They were playing the infield in. Rollins made a good play, he's a great player. I just tried to advance and try to be in scoring position for the next guy."

The Phillies reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh before Morneau smashed a no-doubter into the right field seats, giving him his fifth RBI in four trips to the plate, and his third game-tying RBI of the day.

Philadelphia added two more in the eighth, and Colorado couldn't quite climb back, even with Morneau at the plate in the eighth and a trio of replay reviews, only one of which went in Colorado's favor as it saved a run from scoring in the top of the ninth.

"Our bullpen's not going to be perfect, but it's going to be a strength for us," Weiss said. "It has been, and it will continue to be.

"I like our club. I like the mentality of our club. I think our guys will fight through the tough stuff. That's the X factor. I think we have that. I like where we're at."

MLB.com Comments