Phils show patience, break through in fifth

Patient approach pays off for Phillies

PHILADELPHIA -- As Ubaldo Jimenez continued to pound the strike zone during the early innings, the Phillies were left to wonder if they were eventually going to get the opportunity to take advantage of the control problems the young Rockies right-hander has occasionally encountered.

After waiting patiently through the first four innings of Game 1 of the National League Division Series, the Phillies took full advantage of the opportunities Jimenez provided in a two-run fifth inning that propelled them to a 5-1 win Wednesday over the Rockies.

"We were able to string some good at-bats together, and when you don't try to do too much, good things can happen," said Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez, who ended a five-pitch at-bat in the fifth with an RBI double that accounted for the game's first run.

While keeping Philadelphia's potent offense scoreless through the first four innings, Jimenez found the strike zone with 32 of 46 pitches and forced the Phils to complete eight of their first 14 at-bats in three pitches or less.

"Obviously to kind of cruise through the first few innings like that with that many pitches, he's got good stuff," said Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth, who turned the tide of the game when he drew an eight-pitch walk to begin the fifth.

Jimenez's early success wasn't necessarily a product of overeager Phils. Instead, it had more to do with the fact that he managed to find a groove while throwing first-pitch strikes to nine of the 11 batters that he faced during the second, third and fourth innings.

In other words, he was looking like the same young pitcher who had issued 85 walks -- sixth-most in the NL this year.

"We battled," Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino said. "We hit some balls well off of him, we just weren't getting the hits that we needed. A guy like him, I think you just try to get his pitch count up as much as you can. He's got great stuff, and when he's on, he's on. We were able to put some runs together and scrap it out."

UP, THEN DOWN
Ubaldo Jimenez was cruising in Game 1 when the bottom fell out, as the Phillies scored five runs in the fifth and sixth innings for a 5-1 victory. A breakdown of Jimenez's start, inning-by-inning:
Inning Hits Runs Pitches
1st 0 0 10
2nd 1 0 10
3rd 1 0 12
4th 1 0 14
5th 3 2 35
6th 3 3 11

When Jimenez threw just one of his first four pitches of the fifth inning for strikes, it signaled the end of promise for both him and the Rockies, who squandered a few early opportunities against Cliff Lee, who went the distance and saw his shutout erased by Troy Tulowitzki's two-out, ninth-inning RBI double.

Werth's leadoff walk in the fifth was followed by Ibanez's double that eluded Rockies first baseman Todd Helton's dive and headed into the right-field corner. Two batters later, catcher Carlos Ruiz ended an eight-pitch at-bat with an RBI single to right field.

After needing just 46 pitches to complete four innings, Jimenez endured a 35-pitch fifth inning, during which he threw first-pitch strikes to just two of the seven batters that he faced.

"I think they were still aggressive," Jimenez said. "I don't think they were taking any more pitches. After [the fifth inning], I was falling behind in the count with everything."

The affects of the fifth were evident when Jimenez surrendered three straight hits to begin the sixth. Chase Utley produced a leadoff single and then stole second base. After surrendering a Ryan Howard double, the Rockies right-hander saw his evening end with Werth's triple off the center-field wall.

"Ubaldo really started paying more attention to the runners and not as much to executing pitches," Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins said. "Then he left some pitches up in the zone and that led to some hits."

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