DENVER -- A blast and a fist-pump by Shane Victorino in the seventh inning on Saturday night appeared to be the big lift to reignite the Phillies in Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Coors Field. Playing catch-up all season, the Phillies were primed once again to show their resiliency with another dramatic rally. After all, during the regular season Philadelphia paced the Major Leagues with 48 comeback wins, so it seemed only fitting to make yet another late push. But as was the case all series, the elation was short lived. The Rockies prevailed, 2-1, in front of 50,724 to capture the best-of-five series and advance to the NL Championship Series against the Diamondbacks.
For the Phillies, their impressive season ends five days after they celebrated the franchise's first NL East crown since 1993. "It's definitely not where we wanted to be," said Victorino, who tied things at 1 with his shot to right field off Ubaldo Jimenez. "It's definitely frustrating, but, hey, you know what, we fought. We fought all year long. You have to look at the positives. We've come a long way. It gives us a taste in our mouths to come back next year, in Spring Training ready to go and go from there." So what went wrong? Mainly, the high-voltage offense, which led the National League with 892 runs during the season, fizzled. In the three games, the offense scored eight runs. While the Phillies connected on five home runs, all of them were solo shots. Collectively, the club batted .172 over the three games, with 26 of its 93 at-bats ending in strikeouts. "I ain't going to knock anything," said Victorino, whose homer was one of only three Phillies hits on Saturday. "That team across there is a great team. Their pitching staff pitched well. You've got to give credit where credit is due. "We didn't do what we wanted to do, but you tip your hat to that team across the way. I wish them the best. I hoped it could have been us, but they are playing good ball, and I'm not going to make any excuses." Slugger Ryan Howard was kept in check, as he finished the series 3-for-12 with a home run, an RBI and seven strikeouts. The way the Rockies have been rolling along, winning 17 of 18, the Phillies knew they had to elevate their game. "They are still riding that wave," Howard said. "I wish them good luck in the next series."
The hurt was evident in the Philadelphia clubhouse, but the team also recognized all they have accomplished."We've been through a lot this season, and hopefully everybody goes home and knows what this feels like, and comes in from the Day 1 of Spring Training expecting to win next year," Howard said. Colorado's pitching succeeded in neutralizing leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins, who ended the series batting .182 (2-for-11) with a home run, a triple and four RBIs. Before the season, Rollins made headlines by stating the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East. His bold claim came true, and the speedy shortstop thrived off the pressure he put on himself. "It was a lot of fun to go out there and put a target on us, and to make us step our game up," Rollins said. What stood out about playoff ball to Rollins is the fact the fun can disappear so swiftly. "The series is so short. If you lose one game, then two games, if something goes wrong in that next game, you find yourself going home, like this," Rollins said. "If you have a good pitching staff, and they can attack the other team, and make the other team hit from behind in the count, you are going to be successful." All-Star second baseman Chase Utley also never got rolling. Like Rollins, he was 2-for-11. "They pitched real well, and they swung the bats," Utley said. "We're obviously all very disappointed, we wanted the season to go a little longer, but we've got to hold our heads high. We battled through so much this year." Was the offense pressing? "You're always wanting to do well, whether we were trying too hard or not, I guess that's a question to ask ourselves in the offseason," Utley said. "This team has had the most heart, the most desire to win of any team I've ever played on, so I'm proud of my teammates. We're disappointed we could go a little longer."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.