Rusin, Rockies blast past Phillies
PHILADELPHIA -- Rockies left-hander Chris Rusin replaced injured starter Jordan Lyles and held the Phillies scoreless for 4 2/3 innings of a 4-1 victory on Sunday afternoon.
"I knew I was going to be the first guy out of the 'pen, so I was already aware, stretched and ready to go," said Rusin (1-0). "It was tough, but I was fortunate enough to throw strikes, keep the ball down and get early contact."
Rusin's rescue job -- augmented by Brooks Brown's strikeout display in the seventh -- helped the Rockies complete their first regular-season sweep in Philadelphia in their 23-year history.
"To come east and win a couple series and sweep a series, that's a nice accomplishment, considering our history," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said.
The Rockies, who completed a two-city road trip 5-1, built a lead on two-run homers by Nolan Arenado in the first inning and DJ LeMahieu in the fifth -- both off Phillies starter Jerome Williams (3-5), who gave up eight hits.
Lyles was avoiding a Cody Asche single through the middle when he suffered an aggravation of a left big toe sprain that occurred during his last start. It was the third time in four starts that Lyles left with an injury.
"He passed all the tests of a the last few days and was ready to go, but he had to hop out of the way of a comebacker and that thing bit him again," said Weiss, who considered righty Christian Bergman but thought Rusin was a good option against a Phillies lineup with six left-handed hitters.
Rusin, who started Tuesday at Cincinnati in place of Jorge De La Rosa (left middle finger cut), gave up Cameron Rupp's double that scored Asche. Rusin then quieted the Phillies until they loaded the bases on a walk and two hits to open the seventh. However, Brown, using a 95 mph fastball and a changeup 9 mph slower, fanned Rupp, Darin Ruf and Ben Revere on 11 total pitches. Brown began the year with five scoreless outings in his first six, but battled a shoulder issue that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. Now his groove is returning.
"It's getting there, feels a lot better for sure -- command is getting better," Brown said. "I'm a strike-thrower. That's my biggest thing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Traveling power show: Arenado gave the Rockies a 2-0 lead with his 12th homer this season and fourth on the road trip. In his first two Major League seasons, Arenado had seven combined road homers. He has 10 this year. More >
A little pain, a lot of gain: With one out in the fifth, Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon reached by being hit for the ninth time this year -- a figure that ranks second in the National League to the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo's 14. It set up LeMahieu's third homer this season for a 4-1 lead.
Not worth the RISP: The Phillies found themselves in position to cut into or even overtake the Rockies' lead in the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no one out. But they came up short again as Brown struck out Rupp, Ruf and Revere to end the threat. Philadelphia finished 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position Sunday and have just one hit in their last 28 such opportunities.
"That was a big moment in the game, it was a shutdown inning for them and it was our best chance of the day," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said. "That was a disappointing half of an inning for us." More >
Dive at five: Williams continued his ongoing fifth-inning struggles Sunday by allowing the LeMahieu blast. His ERA is now 12.19 in the fifth inning this year. He has allowed four home runs and six doubles in the inning and added his first fifth-inning hit batsman of the year as well.
"We've got to start keeping an eye on him in the fifth instead of the sixth," Sandberg said. "Keep an eye on him. Sometimes it's a combination of elevating the ball as the game goes on and then missing with location." More >
"It's always tough. It seems we face [Clayton] Kershaw every other week, for six months." -- Weiss, on returning home to begin a four-game set against the Dodgers, with Monday night's opener against their left-handed ace.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rockies' eight homers against the Phillies were the most in a three-game road series since they had eight at Milwaukee April 1-3, 2013.
"This is a nice park to hit in, but you've still got to square it up and hit it good," Weiss said. "We faced [Cole] Hamels. We faced [Aaron] Harang, and nobody's hitting those guys. It's just a matter of us putting together better at-bats and competing better in the box."
After being called up on May 15, rookie third baseman Maikel Franco batted 7-for-20 (.350) in his first five games with an OPS of 1.031 as the Phillies won four of those five games. Since he has cooled off, so too have the Phillies. Franco's batting average has now dipped below .200 and he's recorded only five hits in his last 11 games. The Phillies are 2-9 in those games.
LIKE OLD TIMES
With John Axford needing a day's rest after a heavy recent workload, Weiss went to Scott Oberg for his first Major League save. Oberg, who had 61 saves at three Minor League stops, gave up one hit in an uneventful ninth.
"That was awesome," Oberg said. "It was really cool. Walt came to me before the game and told me that he wanted to stay away from Axford because he's gotten a lot of work, and with [Rafael] Betancourt ill. So he [Weiss] told me to be ready." More >
The Phillies benefited from an overturned call in the top of the third inning when a replay turned one out into two. Arenado sharply rolled a ground ball toward Chase Utley, who scooped up the grounder and flicked the ball to shortstop Cesar Hernandez covering second, rendering LeMahieu out. Hernandez then turned and threw to first, but his throw was ruled late by first-base umpire Chris Conroy. Sandberg challenged this ruling and the replay showed that the throw entered Ryan Howard's glove while Arenado's foot was still above the bag, ending the inning with the double play. The review lasted 45 seconds.
Rockies: To make the road trip a trend rather than a blip, the Rockies will have to turn around an 8-13 home performance during their upcoming 10-game homestand. It starts with righty Kyle Kendrick (2-6, 6.38 ERA) -- coming off a win at Cincinnati that was his first since Opening Day -- facing Dodgers lefty ace Clayton Kershaw (3-3, 3.86 ERA) on Monday at 6:40 p.m. MT.
Phillies: The Phillies are off Monday before opening a three-game home series with the Reds Tuesday. Johnny Cueto will start for the Reds and Sean O'Sullivan for the Phillies. Philadelphia is one of the few teams Cueto has not been universally successful against, as his 5.52 ERA is his highest mark against any NL team.
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