Matsui’s slam lifts Rockies over Phillies

Members of the Philadelphia Phillies watch from the dugout rail during the seventh inning of their 10-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 on Thursday in Philadelphia. The Phillies are now in a 2-0 hole in the series. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, RUSTY KENNEDY


Members of the Philadelphia Phillies watch from the dugout rail during the seventh inning of their 10-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies in Game 2 on Thursday in Philadelphia. The Phillies are now in a 2-0 hole in the series. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, RUSTY KENNEDY

By Rob Maaddi

PHILADELPHIA – Done chasing that wild-card spot, Kaz Matsui and the relentless Colorado Rockies are playing like champs.

Matsui hit his first career grand slam and drove in five runs, leading the Rockies over the Philadelphia Phillies 10-5 Thursday for a 2-0 lead in their NL playoff series.

A day after winning a pitchers’ duel, Colorado outslugged the Phils and got a big effort from its bullpen. With 16 victories in 17 games, the Rockies are winning every which way.

“We believe we’re going to win every game,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We’ve been playing in the loser’s bracket for a month.”

Matsui connected off Kyle Lohse, rushed in to relieve struggling rookie Kyle Kendrick in the fourth inning.

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Lohse was the Phillies’ scheduled Game 4 starter. At this rate, the best-of-five series may not get that far.

Rookie Ubaldo Jimenez will try to pitch Colorado to a sweep Saturday night at Coors Field against veteran Jamie Moyer.

Making just the second postseason appearance in the franchise’s 15-year history, Colorado is on the verge of going to its first NL championship series. The Rockies posted their eighth straight road victory.

Matsui fell a single short of the cycle, and Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday homered on consecutive pitches in the first inning off Kendrick, who got a quick hook from manager Charlie Manuel.

Booed out of New York after 2 1/2 seasons with the Mets, Matsui is a perfect fit in calmer Colorado.

“I couldn’t make good results in New York,” Matsui said through a translator. “I’m glad I have a good environment and a good team in Colorado.”

The Phillies had a chance to make it interesting in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs. But closer Manny Corpas came in and retired Carlos Ruiz. Corpas worked around a pair of two-out singles in a scoreless ninth for his second save in as many days.

Before the game, Corpas came under scrutiny because he was caught by TBS cameras on Wednesday pouring a liquid on the front of his jersey and patting his chest and rubbing his fingers before throwing a pitch. He didn’t appear to do anything shady in this appearance.

Jimmy Rollins homered and drove in four runs and Ryan Howard also went deep for Philadelphia, which ended a 14-year playoff drought by capturing the NL East title on the final day of the season.

But it’s been downhill for the Phillies since they followed a wild celebration Sunday with a pep rally at City Hall the next day.

The heavily criticized Manuel gave his critics plenty of ammunition with two questionable moves.

With the Phillies leading 3-2 in the fourth, Manuel pulled Kendrick after pinch-hitter Seth Smith’s infield single loaded the bases with two outs.

Manuel called on Lohse, who made two relief appearances on side days down the stretch. Lohse got ahead 1-2 on Matsui, before grooving a fastball. Matsui drove it into the right-field seats to give the Rockies a 6-3 lead and silence the largest crowd ever at four-year-old Citizens Bank Park.

“Lohse has been pitching really good out of the bullpen, he has good stuff and I felt he was the right guy,” Manuel said.

A total of 45,991 came out, waved their rally towels and cheered wildly despite the score – somewhat out of character for the notoriously tough Philly boobirds. But they sure gave Jose Mesa an earful when the reliever struggled in the sixth.

Mesa walked his first two batters and allowed a two-run double to Yorvit Torrealba. Clay Condrey entered one out later and gave up an RBI triple to Matsui and RBI single to Holliday that made it 10-3.

“You hope the pitcher can hold the score and you can catch up,” Manuel said.

Matsui, Colorado’s leadoff hitter, had just four homers in 410 at-bats this season. He flied out to center in his last at-bat, finishing 3-for-5.

Rookie Franklin Morales lasted just three innings, allowing three runs and three hits in his ninth career start. The 21-year-old Venezuelan earned his first win in Philly on Sept. 11.

Josh Fogg relieved the hard-throwing lefty, and pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win in his second relief appearance this year. Fogg started Monday when Colorado beat San Diego in 13 innings in the wild-card tiebreaker.

“They had that big inning and there wasn’t any looking back,” Howard said. “We need to have short memories right now.”

On an unseasonably warm fall afternoon in Philly – it was 82 degrees at game time – the balls were flying out early.

Tulowitzki, the Rookie of the Year candidate, gave the Rockies a 1-0 on a towering drive that landed in the flower bed just beyond the left-center field wall and bounced onto the field. Thinking the ball was in play, Tulowitzki slid into third base, got up and jogged home.

There was no doubt about Holliday’s shot. He hit his second homer in two games and his sixth in six games in Philadelphia this season.

Rollins connected on Morales’ first pitch in the first to slice Colorado’s lead to 2-1. His two-run triple in the third gave the Phillies their first lead of the series, 3-2.