NLCS Shifts To Denver

Colorado Rockies Manager Clint Hurdle says it's easy to figure out why the club is two wins away from the World Series.

"We execute," Hurdle said. "We pitch better. We find ways to win. So that has played out very well."

Colorado's 3-2 victory in 11 innings over Arizona on Friday night gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead in the NL championship series. It was the Rockies' 19th victory in 20 games, and the seemingly unstoppable team is headed home to Denver, where the best-of-seven series resumes Sunday night with Josh Fogg pitching against Arizona's Livan Hernandez.

Two wins at Coors Field would give Colorado the first pennant of its 15-season history.

"We realize there's more work to be done," Todd Helton said. "Denver is going to be a crazy place this weekend."

Colorado extended its crazy run with the help of Willy Taveras, added to the roster for the NLCS after missing 24 games.

Taveras strolled to first base with the decisive RBI after sprinting toward the gap for a diving catch.

Jose Valverde walked Taveras on four pitches with the bases loaded in the 11th inning.

"We're playing with a lot of momentum," Hurdle said.

The Rockies recovered after blowing a ninth-inning lead with help from Taveras.

Leading off the 11th, pinch-hitter Ryan Spilborghs reached on an infield single. Brad Hawpe walked with one out and Jamey Carroll walked with two outs against Valverde, pitching more than an inning for just the second time this season.

"Until he gives up a run, it's his game," Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin said.

But Valverde couldn't find the plate against Taveras, either.

"I felt so good. I'm not tired. My arm felt good," said Valverde, who threw 42 pitches.

The wild-card Rockies, who swept Philadelphia in the division series, joined the 1976 Cincinnati Reds as the only NL teams to win their first five games in a postseason.

"We expect to win every game," Spilborghs said. "To come out of here with two wins is pretty much what we expected."

The Diamondbacks tried almost everything to come back, sending sweet-swinging pitcher Micah Owings to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the 11th.

Owings had 12 hits in his prior 21 at-bats, with three homers and 10 RBIs. But he flied to center for the second out and Ryan Speier struck out Chris Young to complete a perfect inning for his first major league save in a game that lasted 4 hours, 26 minutes.

"We've come back from some difficult circumstances this year," Melvin said. "It's two games. A team has to win four before it's over."

Colorado was ahead 2-1 in the ninth when closer Manny Corpas hit Young on a 1-2 pitch with one out, then Young took third on Stephen Drew's single to center.

Eric Byrnes hit a bouncer to second baseman Kaz Matsui. With no chance to get the speedy Young at home, Matsui tried for an improbable double play.

His backhand flip to second was high for an error, and slick-fielding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki came off the bag to grab it.

Drew, however, didn't realize he was called safe by umpire Tom Hallion and wandered off second base. Tulowitzki, who had started to argue, soon noticed. He ran toward Drew and threw to third baseman Carroll, who applied the tag.

"From my standpoint, it looked like he touched it," Drew said. "When I looked back, there was no call. I thought I was out. That's it."

It was a costly mistake by Drew, in his first full season in the majors. Tony Clark grounded out, ending the inning.

It was Corpas' second blown save since becoming Colorado's closer in midseason. The first was Sept. 21 at San Diego. He saved all three playoff victories over Philadelphia.

The Rockies won their previous seven games wearing black jerseys, but they had to settle for gray with pinstripes in this one. The Diamondbacks broke out the black, something they had reserved for home Saturday night games in the regular season.

But missed opportunities abounded for Arizona.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the fifth, but Mark Reynolds struck out. Clark led off the second with a double that Taveras had in his glove as he ran toward the 407-foot sign in center before the ball popped loose. Still, Arizona failed to score.

The Rockies are up 2-0 despite a .211 batting average and 22 strikeouts. They have won 10 straight road games.


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