DENVER -

Charlie Manuel

had a decision to make Monday night in the eighth inning at Coors Field:

Have Carlos Ruiz hit for himself, or have Chris Coste hit in his place.

Coste would have made sense. The Phillies had the bases loaded with two outs and trailed the Rockies, 5-4. He was hitting .385 (10 for 26) with two home runs and four RBIs, while Ruiz entered the eighth inning hitting just .196 (10 for 51) with no homers and four RBIs.

Manuel stuck with Ruiz.

He said he had a hunch.

Ruiz doubled to right field to score two runs and give the Phillies the lead in their 9-5 victory.

"I look at who's pitching, what type of hitters they are," Manuel said before last night's game against Colorado. "Sometimes it's not who I think is the better hitter at all. It's who I think is going to give the best at-bat against that guy."

The numbers indicate that Manuel has been adept in using his pinch-hitters. The Phillies' pinch-hitters entered last night's game against the Rockies hitting .324 (11 for 34) to lead the National League. They also led the league in hits, home runs (three) and RBIs (seven). The Phillies led the league last year in pinch-hit RBIs, with 57, and tied for third in pinch-hit home runs, with nine.

"He's got a great knack for it," said Greg Dobbs, who has one of the team's pinch-hit homers and knocked in a run with a pinch-hit single last night. "He did it in his career, so he knows what you're going through as a player. He has a good feel for the matchups."

Manuel had Pedro Feliz pinch-hit for Dobbs on Sunday night against New York. The move made sense because Mets lefthander Pedro Feliciano was on the mound and Dobbs hits lefthanded, but Dobbs had gotten a hit against Feliciano the night before and very much wanted another opportunity against him.

Feliz hit the game-winning homer off Feliciano.

"As much as I wanted to hit in that spot because I had a good at-bat against Feliciano, I completely understand why he did it," Dobbs said.

"Charlie's great at it, man. He's one of the best with going with his gut, but it's an educated guess. He knows his guys and he's seen us work day-in and day-out. He has a real good feel for how these matchups are going to work out in his mind. And he goes with it.

"If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't. He's not going to second-guess himself. He's going to make the decision that he thinks is best. When you have a manager who does that, it gives you confidence because he's like, 'You're my guy. Go do it.' "

Bring them home

Third base coach

Steve Smith

has been part of a handful of inside-the-park home runs, and that includes

Jayson Werth's

in Monday's victory over the Rockies.

But Smith's first attempt at an inside-the-parker didn't work as planned when he got Seattle Mariners catcher Dan Wilson thrown out at the plate in Minnesota on May 24, 1999.

"I became a fan instead of a coach," Smith said. "I sent him, he's thrown out at the plate, and I said right there, 'I'm not a fan anymore. I'll play the play.'

"They're just fun. There were no outs [with Werth's homer]. It's not in Philly, so I don't have to send him [or be booed for holding him at third]. I thought he had it easy, but it was closer than I thought. But it kind of fired the guys up. Once it happened, that whole bench ignited."

Quite a line

Righthander

Rudy Seanez

is 2-1 with a 0.00 ERA in seven appearances for the Phillies. He has allowed no hits, but has walked seven.

"Rudy is getting some pitching time in," Manuel said. "I think the more he works, the better he's going to get. I think he's going to be fine for us. I think he's a good fix for us. I think he's going to pitch more. I don't mind using him. He's been around. I know what he can do."

Extra bases

Ryan Howard

entered last night hitting .200 with 4 homers, nine RBIs, 14 walks and 28 strikeouts. Last season at this time he was hitting .213 with 3 homers, 12 RBIs, 22 walks and 23 strikeouts. Why the decline in walks? "

[Pat] Burrell

is hitting the ball," Manuel said. "I'd say that's a reason. It could be a big reason. Of course, when he's hitting good, he's more selective. That could be another reason, too. But Burrell is hot. They know that he's hitting good." . . . Centerfielder

Shane Victorino,

who is on the disabled list with a strained right calf, was scheduled to play in an extended spring training game yesterday in Clearwater, Fla.

- Todd Zolecki