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Dire straits for Phils after Game 2 loss

Dire straits for Phils after Game 2 loss

PHILADELPHIA -- It wasn't supposed to go like this.

At least that's not how anyone in the home clubhouse pictured it.

Yet, here the Phillies sit after succumbing to a relentless Rockies attack in dropping Game 2 of the National League Division Series on Thursday, 10-5, which brought them one loss from a quick postseason exit.

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It should be a quiet flight to Denver, where the Phillies must win both games at Coors Field, where Philadelphia lost two of three earlier this season. If they survive the higher altitude, they must take the decisive Game 5 back at Citizens Bank Park to advance to the NL Championship Series.

One more loss ends their season.

"We have to move on," Brett Myers said. "We can't dwell on it. If you dwell on it, the next thing you know, you're out of the series."

When Ryan Howard struck out looking in the ninth, it ended a frustrating afternoon in which the Phillies took their first lead of the best-of-five series via Most Valuable Player candidate Jimmy Rollins, then quickly gave it back.

The decision that will haunt manager Charlie Manuel involved pulling rookie starter Kyle Kendrick -- who at 23 years and 39 days old became the second-youngest player in franchise history to start a postseason game -- with two outs in the fourth inning.

The rookie had lasted six or more innings in 15 of his 20 starts, including nine of his last 12. He had also gone 7-1 in his 11 starts at Citizens Bank Park.

Kendrick started shakily, surrendering back-to-back, first-pitch homers to Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Holliday with one out in the first inning.

"Today was the biggest game of my life, and for our team, and I wish I could have given more than I did today," Kendrick said.

After Rollins, Holliday's chief competition for NL MVP, pumped adrenaline into the crowd with a first-pitch home run in the bottom of the first, he delivered them into a frenzy with a two-out, two-run triple in the second inning, giving Philadelphia its first lead of the series.

Manuel got Kyle Lohse up in the bullpen in the third after Kendrick gave up a leadoff double, but his starter escaped. Kendrick nearly did it again in the fourth, but Manuel lifted him after a 60-foot cue shot from pinch-hitter Seth Smith loaded the bases with two outs. The manager wanted Lohse to face Kazuo Matsui, who had doubled off Kendrick in the third.

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Was it a mistake in hindsight?

"I don't think it was a mistake," Manuel said. "I did it. I liked Lohse against Matsui because of his stuff. It was the second time I got him up and when I put him in, he was going to go to the sixth."

Though Lohse had made two appearances out of the bullpen in September, this was the first time he entered in such a big spot. One pitch after hooking a liner just foul down the first-base line, Matsui smacked a grand slam a few rows up in section 105.

The crowd of 45,991 -- the largest audience in Citizens Bank Park history -- quieted.

"That's the wrong guy to throw a down-and-in fastball to," Lohse said. "I wanted a fastball up and in. It ended up coming back down. It was on the inside corner, but it needed to be up about two feet. Bad pitch."

Long Road Back
Just seven teams in baseball history have overcome 0-2 deficits to win a best-of-five series:
Year
Team
Opponent
1981LA DodgersHouston
1982MilwaukeeCalif. Angels
1984San DiegoChi Cubs
1995SeattleNY Yankees
1999BostonCleveland
2001NY YankeesOakland
2003BostonOakland

The Rockies' four-run sixth inning against Jose Mesa and Clay Condrey put the game out of reach.

"I come in there to stop the bleeding," said Condrey. "All I did was open the wound up more."

The Phillies are in need of a pretty large band-aid. If they are to survive dropping the first two games, they must channel the 1981 Dodgers, 1982 Brewers, 1984 Padres, 1995 Mariners, 1999 Red Sox, 2001 Yankees and 2003 Red Sox. If they do so, they'll become the eighth team in baseball history to overcome an 0-2 deficit to win a best-of-five series.

"Here we are again with our backs against the wall," Shane Victorino said. "Everybody is still positive. It doesn't feel like we're down 0-2 right now. That is what's so good about our attitude and the way we've overcome adversity all year long. Nobody is holding their head down. The fight that we've had all year isn't going to end just because we're down."

Rollins, who has already been right on one bold prediction this season, had another one.

"No one is panicking, no one is down. No one is frowning, either," Rollins said. "That's something we don't do. After we get that one, and find out how to win again, I think we'll get to two and three."

Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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