Stynes' Defense, Power Beats Phillies 4-3

It wasn't that Kevin Millwood didn't pitch a good game, but the Rockies did all the little things right to win. Chris Stynes made all the defensive plays and added a long homerun as the Rockies beat the Phillies 4-3 Thursday to keep from losing just their third home series of the season. The loss means that if the Florida Marlins beat St.Louis Thursday night, the wild card race is a dead heat in the National League.

Kevin Millwood (11-8) retired the first two hitters in the first inning and thought he made a good pitch to Todd Helton. In fact, Helton thought he popped up the pitch, but 350 feet later, the ball landed amongst the fans to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead in the game. It's what playing in Colorado is all about and the Phillies took advantage of the thin air a couple innings later. Placido Polanco lined a Denny Stark pitch right down the third base line and out of Coors Field to tie the game at 1-1. Polanco's homerun would have been a double in most other parks, but carried enough and stayed just high enough to get out. It also gave Polanco a career high 10 homeruns on the season.

The Phillies got another run in the fourth, but could have done more damage. Bobby Abreu singled and went to second on a balk just ahead of an RBI single by Ricky Ledee. Center fielder Preston Wilson bobbled the ball and Ledee made it to second on the error. Jimmy Rollins then tried to bunt Ledee over and Chris Stynes dove into foul territory to make a great catch just before the ball hit the turf. The play was called by the third base umpire even though he was blocked from seeing the catch. Home plate umpire Jerry Layne had made the call and said that the ball hit the turf, but was overruled by Greg Gibson. Larry Bowa argued the call, but to no avail as the play stood. Todd Pratt was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second. Tomas Perez grounded out, but moved the runners into scoring position, but Millwood grounded out to end the inning.

Again in the sixth inning, the Phillies missed some chances. Abreu led off with a homerun, Ledee walked and Rollins hit a ground rule double to put runners on second and third with nobody out and the Phillies leading 3-1. Pratt struck out and the Rockies intentionally walked Perez to load the bases. They also brought in Steve Reed to relieve Stark. Reed grounded into a double play to end the inning without any further scoring.

The Rockies took advantage of the Phillies missing their opportunity and put up a couple runs in their half of the inning. Perez let a ball dribbled down the line go and the ball wound up staying fair to give Colorado runners on first and second with nobody out. Juan Uribe and Helton both popped out and it looked like the Phillies might dodge a bullet. Preston Wilson and Larry Walker both singled though to score two runs and tie the game at 3-3 after six innings.

Stynes again left his mark on the game when he led off the seventh inning with a homerun off Millwood to put the Rockies up 4-3. The homerun made a winner out of Javier Lopez (3-1) and Justin Speier came on to pitch the ninth inning, recording his seventh save of the year.

The Rockies are now 40-17 at home this season. The Phillies move into San Francisco for a weekend series and the Giants are just as good at home as the Rockies have been this season. The series starts with Randy Wolf (11-6, 3.37) pitching against Jesse Foppert (7-8, 5.36).

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