Schierholtz's walk-off single lifts Phils over Rox

Schierholtz's walk-off single lifts Phils over Rox

Schierholtz's walk-off single lifts Phils over Rox
PHILADELPHIA -- Postseason play remains an extreme long shot for the Phillies. Finishing with a winning record, on the other hand, is a mark in no way out of reach.

The schedule over the next two weeks presents a good opportunity for the Phillies to string together wins. On Friday night, in the first of 13 consecutive games against teams with worse records, the Phillies got the job done. An offense struggling to capitalize early gave way to a couple timely hits, culminating in a Nate Schierholtz walk-off single for a 3-2 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

With Friday in the books, 15 of the Phillies' final 24 games need to end in wins in order for them to finish above .500 for the season.

"It's important to play the game out, try to win each day," Cliff Lee said. "Lately, we've been playing well-rounded baseball and getting wins. Hopefully, we can continue to do that and finish this year out strong."

They finished strong on Friday. Representing the winning run in the bottom of the ninth, Jimmy Rollins worked a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a Juan Pierre sacrifice bunt. After the Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley, both Rollins and Utley advanced into scoring position on a Will Harris wild pitch. That set up Schierholtz, who drove a ground ball in between the first and second basemen.

The Phillies' 10th walk-off triumph of the season would not have been possible if not for a crucial hit two innings earlier. With the bases loaded and two outs, pinch-hitter Laynce Nix smoked a Josh Roenicke fastball for a two-run, game-tying double.

"Regardless of the season they're having, that's a pretty good team over there," Rockies starter Jeff Francis said. "I know that."

Lee took the mound in search of his season-best third consecutive win. Instead, he jogged to the dugout in the seventh inning after a start like so many of his others during this strange, hard-luck season for the decorated left-hander.

Lee extended his 2012 Major League lead in no-decisions to 14. Held to three or fewer runs in 14 of his 24 prior starts, the Phillies offense failed to push across anything while he was in the game.

The Rockies' young lineup got to Lee in the first inning. Carlos Gonzalez, the All-Star left fielder, drove in Josh Rutledge with a double to center field, and then scored on a single from rookie catcher Wilin Rosario.

First inning aside, Lee put forth yet another good outing. Over his past five starts, he has compiled a 2.08 ERA with 38 strikeouts to just two walks. His pitch location, he said, has been better his last few outings.

Meanwhile, Francis stymied the Phils at home for the second time this season. Pierre and Michael Martinez combined for four of the six hits off Colorado's veteran left-hander, who hurled 5 2/3 innings of shutout ball before manager Jim Tracy, abiding by his well-documented pitch limit, pulled him. Using just 86 pitches, 60 for strikes, Francis struck out a season-high seven and issued only an intentional walk.

"He pitched [against us] earlier in the season and he pitched the same way," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "We were swinging at him and hitting him the same way. Evidently, he went to school on us."

It wasn't until the seventh when the Phillies snapped their 0-fer with runners in scoring position. Singles from Pete Orr, Pierre and a walk from Utley loaded the bases for Ty Wigginton, who struck out in his first three at-bats. When Tracy inserted Roenicke, a right-hander, Manuel countered with Nix, who delivered.

"Nix hits the ball very hard at times," Manuel said. "We need to really get him sharp and get him some playing time, because he can be a valuable piece."

Nix's double became the key hit in a win that propelled the Phillies to four games under .500 for the first time since June 26, the day before Utley's triumphant season debut.

"Cliff pitched a good game and needed to get bailed out right there," Nix said. "So, I'm happy to be able to come through right there and make a difference."

Jake Kaplan is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.