DENVER — Chase Utley ducked near second base. The rest of the Philadelphia Phillies never flinched. Ryan Howard hit a two-run double with two outs in the ninth inning and scored on Jayson Werth’s single as Philadelphia rallied past the Colorado Rockies 5-4 in Game 4 on Monday to reach the National League Championship Series.
Brad Lidge, bouncing back from a ragged regular season, earned his second consecutive save by again retiring cleanup batter Troy Tulowitzki with runners on first and second for the final out.
Tulowitzki, who flied out to end Game 3, struck out this time and the Phillies celebrated on the infield at chilly Coors Field before retreating to the clubhouse to spray champagne.
“I can’t see and it hurts,” Howard said. “But it hurts good.”
Next, the World Series champions play Thursday night against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium in an NLCS rematch from last season. This marked the fourth straight year that none of baseball’s first-round series went to a winner-take-all Game 5.
“These couple of games have been kind of character builders,” Howard said. “This is just step two of where we’re trying to get to.”
After Dexter Fowler’s hurdle of Utley sparked Colorado’s three-run rally in the eighth, Howard and the Phillies responded with a three-run rally of their own against closer Huston Street.
Street was 35 of 37 on save chances this season, but took the loss in Game 3 when he allowed Howard’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the ninth.
“We had gotten to Huston Street the night before, so we knew we had a shot to make some things happen,” Howard said.
Colorado had lost just once all season when leading after eight innings, and Street started the ninth with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs.
Jimmy Rollins singled with one out and Utley drew a two-out walk on a full count. Howard tied it with two strikes when he doubled to the right-field wall. Werth followed with a soft single to right-center.
“We were a strike away from making a trip to Philadelphia,” lamented Rockies manager Jim Tracy, who went 74-42 after taking over when Clint Hurdle was fired May 29.
The Phillies, the NL’s best road team, swept both games at Coors Field, where the wild-card Rockies went 44-17 under Tracy’s tutelage.
“We stood toe to toe with the defending world champions,” Street said. “I take full responsibility for there not being a Game 5 and not keeping us alive.”
The Rockies looked as if they were going to send the series back to Philadelphia when Yorvit Torrealba’s two-run double broke a 2-all tie in the eighth. That came after Fowler scored the tying run on pinch-hitter Jason Giambi’s two-out single.
Fowler hurdled Utley, who stepped into the basepath to field Todd Helton’s slow grounder, and his quick flip to second base was wide right and mishandled for an error by Rollins.
“That was a football play,” Rollins said. “That was like jumping over a defender trying to get to the end zone, and he made it.”