Down 2-0 in NLDS, Phillies seek another trademark comeback

Updated: October 4, 2007, 8:58 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Back in a huge hole, the Philadelphia Phillies don't have a month to pull off another comeback.

And unless they start hitting soon, the next time they put on those red pinstripe uniforms will be in Clearwater next spring.

The latest flop, a 10-5 loss Thursday to the Colorado Rockies, put them behind 2-0 in the best-of-five series.

"It's really nothing new," Ryan Howard said. "We just hope it turns around and we get up on them early."

Sure, both Kyles -- Kendrick and Lohse -- stunk up the mound. But it would have helped if the offense got some clutch hits and the bullpen did its job. The Phillies, the NL's highest-scoring team, are batting just .203 after two games. Jimmy Rollins, who drove in four runs, is about the only Philadelphia player to pull his load.

The Phillies look nothing like the team that used sharp pitching and booming bats in a September surge that returned them to the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

No team had more comeback wins this year than Philadelphia (48). The Phillies overcame a seven-game deficit in September to overtake the New York Mets and win the NL East. But unlike the Mets -- who just needed to be tipped over -- Colorado has won 16 of 17 overall heading into Game 3 at Coors Field on Saturday night.

What's going on with those Fightin' Phils? This looks like April's 4-11 start all over again.

"We're in a hole right now and we need to get out," closer Brett Myers said. "But I think the guys in here are up for it."

Hey, they've been here before. Only in the regular season it was the spotty starting pitching or reconstructed bullpen that failed them. Not the sluggers. Not like this.

All-Star second baseman Chase Utley is 2-for-9 with five strikeouts. Howard homered in Game 2 but was embarrassingly picked off first base and is 2-for-8. Pat Burrell is 2-for-7 and Aaron Rowand 1-for-8.

"I still think we can get it going," Howard said. "We've turned it on in a hurry before."

Manuel might remind Philadelphia how an 0-2 deficit doesn't necessarily guarantee an early playoff exit. Manuel was Cleveland's hitting coach in 1999 when the Indians blew a 2-0 series lead in a best-of-five against Pedro Martinez and the Boston Red Sox.

"We took a big lead and Boston came back and caught us," Manuel said.

The Phillies had their chances to catch Colorado in this one, too.

Carlos Ruiz batted with the bases loaded in the eighth and Philadelphia down five runs.

No big hit here. Just a meek inning-ending grounder to third off Manny Corpas.

And in the ninth, Howard came up with runners on first and second and two out.

Not even a mighty swing from the mightiest of Phillies helped. He took a called third strike, perhaps the last pitch thrown at Citizens Bank Park this year.

After throwing a pair of young 20-somethings in the first two games, the Phillies turn to 44-year-old Jamie Moyer to save their season in Colorado.

"It's the most important game of our season," Moyer said. "It's one pitch at a time and getting into the game as deep as I can. The game doesn't change."

Kendrick got into a jam early. The rookie who was 4-7 at Double-A Reading when he was promoted in June, allowed consecutive first-inning homers to Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday for a 2-0 Rockies lead.

Rollins' homer in the bottom half and two-run triple in the second but the Phillies ahead, but Kendrick was pulled with the bases loaded in the fourth.

In came Lohse.

Out went Kaz Matsui's grand slam.

The season's not over yet, but the end is in sight.

"We've done it before," Kendrick said. "We have one more game."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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