WASHINGTON -- Before Carlos Gonzalez sent Tanner Roark's changeup deep into the D.C. night, dropping his bat and admiring his handiwork, no Rockies player had recorded a hit Friday at Nationals Park.Gonzalez changed that with two outs in the top of the fourth. His 439-foot shot to center field put
WASHINGTON -- Before Carlos Gonzalez sent Tanner Roark's changeup deep into the D.C. night, dropping his bat and admiring his handiwork, no Rockies player had recorded a hit Friday at Nationals Park.
Gonzalez changed that with two outs in the top of the fourth. His 439-foot shot to center field put the Rockies on the board, and then two innings later his sacrifice fly scored DJ LeMahieu. In a game devoid of much hitting, Gonzalez provided all of Colorado's offense in a 2-1 win over the Nationals. The Rockies have now won the first two contests of a four-game series.
The homer was Gonzalez's third of the season; last year, he didn't hit his first long ball until May 21, 2017.
"When the home run comes, it's just a really good swing to a really good pitch. That means I'm in control, I'm not chasing bad pitches," Gonzalez said. "It's always nice to have a big fly over the fence, but I'm never looking for it."
The Rockies were forced to dip into their bullpen early, after left-hander Kyle Freeland's night ended after 4 2/3 innings. He left with two runners on base, having allowed just one run on a sacrifice fly to Bryce Harper. Scott Oberg entered and forced Ryan Zimmerman to ground out, beginning what would turn out to be a dominant night for the Rockies' bullpen.
The Nationals recorded no hits over the final four innings, as Oberg, right-hander Bryan Shaw, left-hander Mike Dunn and right-hander Adam Ottavino built the bridge to right-hander Wade Davis, who pitched a perfect ninth inning.
"These guys are horses," Gonzalez said of the bullpen. "We feel confident playing behind them, knowing they are going to keep the game the same."
"I'm proud of our pitching, that we hung in there on the road against a good team on a loud night, and our guys performed," manager Bud Black said. "That should continue to build confidence with our group, that we can win these types of games."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Flashing the leather:Gerardo Parra didn't seem to be bothered by the news of his four-game suspension due to his role in the Rockies' brawl with the Padres over the weekend. He made a couple of impressive catches in left field, the first coming in the first inning when he laid out to snag a liner off the bat of Trea Turner. He showed off the leather again in the sixth inning, robbing Howie Kendrick of a hit.
"We did a tremendous job playing defense. [Parra] making those plays in left field, giving confidence to the pitchers. I think that's our biggest strength," Gonzalez said.
Ottavino has gotten hitters to miss 50 percent of their swings against him. Entering play tonight, that was tied for the third-highest rate among 370 pitchers who had generated at least 25 total swings from opponents.
Right-hander Jon Gray (1-2, 5.63 ERA) takes the ball for the Rockies on Saturday, looking to rebound after taking a loss against the Padres last time out. In five innings, he allowed seven runs on a career-high 10 hits. In his career, Gray is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA against the Nationals. First pitch is scheduled for 11:05 a.m. MT.
Joshua Needelman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Washington.