Off the bench and under pressure, Matt Stairs continues to be a threat for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Stairs, of Fredericton, N.B., hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning as the Phillies rallied to beat the host Colorado Rockies 7-5 yesterday.
“That’s a tough job to do, and he does it pretty good,” Phillies’ manager Charlie Manuel said of Stairs. “Hitting a pinch-hit home run is pretty hard, especially when they know what kind of hitter he is.”
Chase Utley had tied it at 5-5 with a two-run homer in the eighth and Ryan Howard had three hits for the Phillies, who won the last two of the three-game series.
Utley went 2-for-3 and scored three times.
It was the second time this season the Phillies rallied to win a game late. They overcame a 10-3 deficit to beat Atlanta 12-11 last Wednesday.
Ryan Madson (1-0) worked a scoreless eighth and Brad Lidge, the last of six Philadelphia pitchers, finished for his second save.
Dexter Fowler led off the second inning with his second homer to give Colorado a 5-1 lead. But Jayson Werth singled in Utley in the fourth and sixth, and the all-star second baseman tied it with his first homer of the season in the eighth.
Pedro Feliz hit a lead-off double in the ninth against Huston Street (0-1). Feliz was sacrificed to third before Stairs, batting for Madson, went deep for his first of the season and 15th career pinch-hit drive.
“It’s the same approach as in batting practice,” Stairs said. “I try to hit every ball as far as I can.”
Street said he tried to throw the pitch inside but it ran back over the plate.
“I didn’t leave it up, it was down,” he stressed. “When the pitch is down, you’re never really afraid, but he’s a good fastball hitter.
“When you don’t hit the glove, bad things happen.”
Colorado put two men on in the ninth, but Lidge got Troy Tulowitzki to ground out to second to end the game.
“Once you get to two strikes, it’s tough with that slider that he has,” Tulowitzki said of Lidge. “There’s a reason why he didn’t blow one last year.”
Elsewhere in the NL yesterday, Cincinnati downed Pittsburgh 2-0, Florida edged the N.Y. Mets 2-1, Atlanta beat Washington 8-5, St. Louis blanked Houston 3-0, San Diego dumped San Francisco 6-1, L.A. shaded Arizona 3-1, and Chicago topped Milwaukee 8-5.