Paulsen walks off Rockies after Rangers rally
DENVER -- After Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez opened the bottom of the ninth with singles, Ben Paulsen delivered a walk-off single to hand the Rockies an 8-7 win over the Rangers in Monday's series opener at Coors Field, the Rockies' fifth straight home win.
"I was just trying to have a good at-bat," said Paulsen, who atoned for his fifth-inning mental error, forgetting how many outs there were and allowing an extra run to score. "I wasn't going, 'I've got to get a hit here.' It was, 'If I put a good swing on it, good things happen.'"
Paulsen's heroics came off Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers (3-1) and scored Drew Stubbs, who pinch-ran for Tulowitzki. The game-winner arrived after Adrian Beltre delivered a game-tying double in the ninth against John Axford (2-2), which completely erased Colorado's one-time 7-0 lead.
"That fastball just stayed down a little bit too much," Axford said. "It was in, but I wanted to get it up a little bit higher -- away from that zone where he can do some damage. That's what he did, and if I get that ball up, maybe it's a different story."
Colorado plated three runs in the first and tacked on four more in the second -- capped off by Tulowitzki's two-run homer to left-center off Rangers starter Nick Martinez (5-6). The long ball handed Colorado a 7-0 advantage and extended Tulowitzki's on-base streak to 41 games. But Texas clawed back with two in the second and three in the fifth against Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin (4-3).
"More than anything, our guys continue to battle," manager Jeff Banister said after his team lost for the ninth time in the last 12 games. "We'll break through this."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Not sick enough: Not only did Tulowitzki pull even with Andres Galarraga and Todd Helton for the second-longest on-base streak in franchise history, but he also did it while feeling under the weather. Tulowitzki said pregame he was suffering from a head cold that he inherited from his young son, Taz. But that didn't seem to affect him on the long ball, which was projected by Statcast™ to land 443 feet away. Tulowitzki is nearing Michael Cuddyer's franchise-best 46-game on-base streak, which was set in 2013.
Pitching to Beltre: The Rockies were one out away from victory in the ninth, leading, 7-6, with Axford on the mound. But, with Leonys Martin at second, they intentionally walked Prince Fielder and pitched to Beltre. The move didn't work, as Beltre lined a game-tying double.
"It's pick your poison right there, really," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "Fielder's the go-ahead run, but both guys are great hitters and great RBI men. I wanted to give Axford a couple pitches to Fielder and see where we were at, and then I was going to make my decision. I didn't want him to give into Fielder, and once he got to 2-0, I was going to go ahead and put him on. I didn't want Fielder hitting in good counts."
Banister stays with Martinez to hit: Banister made an interesting decision in the top of the fifth, with his team trailing, 7-2. After Tomas Telis led off with a single, Banister sent Martinez to the plate to bunt instead of using a pinch-hitter. Martinez did and reached on Rusin's throwing error. That set up the Rangers' three-run inning. But Martinez did not pitch the bottom of the fifth. After scoring one of the three runs, Martinez was replaced by reliever Anthony Bass.
"Martinez was up to 85 pitches, but if I send a hitter up there, we are really under the gun later," Banister said. "Down five, we're just trying to get a run across the board."
Rusin pushes through: Of the five runs Rusin gave up, only two were earned -- albeit because of his own throwing error. Nevertheless, Rusin now has a 2.97 ERA over his last five starts -- all of which have been quality starts. In 28 innings, Rusin now has a 3.00 ERA at home this season.
"I made a mistake myself -- throwing to second base when I shouldn't have -- but for the most part, I thought I threw the ball well," Rusin said. "The results didn't really show that, but just a lot of bleeders, a lot of bloopers."
Paulsen played a crucial role in the Rangers' three-run fifth. With one out and men on second and third, Fielder rolled an RBI groundout to first that scored Martinez. But Paulsen forgot how many outs there were and started jogging to the dugout, which allowed Rougned Odor to score from second and cut the Rockies' lead to 7-5. Rusin, however, retired Josh Hamilton two batters later to end the inning without giving up any more damage.
Colorado won a huge challenge in the ninth inning. First-base umpire Tom Hallion originally ruled that Delino DeShields beat DJ LeMahieu's throw to first, but video evidence showed that Paulsen caught the ball just before DeShields' foot touched the base. Had the call not been overturned, the Rangers would've had the go-ahead run on base.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
After his 3-for-5 night, Beltre is hitting .401 (97-for-242) in his career at Coors Field. That is the highest all-time average for any player with at least 200 at-bats at the Rockies' home park.
Rangers: Matt Harrison makes his second start when he pitches against the Rockies at 7:40 p.m. (CT) Tuesday at Coors Fields. Harrison, who underwent back surgery in May 2014, came off the disabled list on July 8 and allowed six runs in four-plus innings against the D-backs.
Rockies: Kyle Kendrick gets the ball on Tuesday at Coors Field. His lone career start against Texas came last season, when he gave up five hits and one run over seven innings but took a no-decision. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. MT.
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