Rockies win third straight series at home behind Lyles
Pitcher's strong outing aided by overturned call, Morneau home run
DENVER -- The Rockies climbed above .500 for the first time since last June, thanks to a consistent offense that gained ground under review and a sterling pitching performance by Jordan Lyles. The 3-1 win over the Phillies on Saturday gave the Rockies their third consecutive series win at home and sets them up to seek the sweep in Sunday's finale as they re-establish their dominance at Coors Field.
"We feel like we should take care of business every time we come here," Nolan Arenado said. "It's nice to always come home and win a series.
"We're playing hard on the road, we're playing good games, and that's all that matters. But when we come home, there's a self-confidence that, hey, we're excited to go home and these teams don't want to come here."
Arenado was at the heart of a key play that put the Rockies ahead in the third inning of a scoreless game. Arenado extended his hit streak to match a career-best 10 games with a leadoff single to center. DJ LeMahieu followed with a single into the left-center gap that gave Arenado time to round third and head for home. Domonic Brown fielded the ball and threw to Chase Utley at second, who whirled and hurled to catcher Carlos Ruiz for a bang-bang play at the plate with Arenado initially being ruled out.
"I thought my foot got through his legs, so that's why I thought I was safe," Arenado said. "I wasn't thinking about how he was blocking the plate, I just thought I got through."
Manager Walt Weiss came out to argue the play, which was overturned based on the new collision rule when it was determined that Ruiz blocked the plate before receiving the ball.
"I thought that it looked like from the dugout that the plate might have been blocked," Weiss said. "It's a tough rule. It's a tricky rule. Maybe it's open to interpretation a little bit. But that's how I saw it and that's what I said to [crew chief and plate umpire] Tim Welke. I thought the pathway of the runner was blocked."
The one run was nearly enough for Lyles as he offered the Rockies their second consecutive game with a starter going seven innings without allowing an earned run. The Rockies have only done that once before at Coors Field, with Jason Jennings and Mike Hampton accomplishing the feat April 28 and 30, 2002 against the Phillies and Pirates, respectively.
"We're always in the games," Arenado said of the confidence the pitching staff is giving the club. "Every inning we have a chance. These pitchers are taking a lot of pride in their work right now."
The Rockies have put together a string of strong pitching performances, and Lyles was as good as they come. Lyles had the Phillies right where he wanted them, forcing 14 groundball outs against only five fly-ball outs through his seven innings, coming back to a sinker that was as effective as it's been all season for him.
"A lot of groundballs tonight," Lyles said of his dominant sinker. "We relied on it heavily. They kept hitting the top of the ball, so we stayed with it. The base hits weren't hit too hard, so overall just a good night when you're seeing that type of contact all night."
Colorado pitchers have kept the Phillies from recording an extra-base hit for both games in the homestand so far, and the Phillies' futility extends to four games without an extra-base hit, the longest streak of any Major League team since the expansion Marlins went four games without an extra-base hit Sept. 12-16, 1993.
"We're a better team than this," said center fielder Ben Revere, 0-for-4 on the night. "Sometimes it takes some guys a little more at-bats to really get going. It's right there. One of these games we're really going to explode. We've got the talent. We've got the hitters. It's all going to come together and we're going to be rolling."
The only rolling Saturday night was the rolling grounders Lyles' sinker induced from the Phillies bats. Lyles allowed only five hits, pitching into the eighth before leaving the game with 95 pitches. He walked one and struck out two, and the hit he gave up in the eighth came around to score an unearned run, courtesy of an error by reliever Boone Logan.
Kyle Kendrick also pitched well for the Phillies, holding the Rockies to six hits one night after the same lineup erupted for 18.
Philadelphia's best chance came in the fourth when Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard both singled and Lyles walked Marlon Byrd to load the bases with one out. Brown followed with a grounder to short that killed the rally with an inning-ending double play.
"Tulo [Troy Tulowitzki] scooped it and threw it over to DJ, and that was a game-changing play," Lyles said. "We shut the door right there with that play."
The Rockies added a pair of runs in the fourth when Carlos Gonzalez led off with a single to right and Justin Morneau brought him home with a majestic round-tripper driven into the seats beyond the right field scoreboard for his third homer of the year.
LaTroy Hawkins pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save in as many chances.
"Our guys like to play here," Weiss said of the team's 6-2 start at home. "We like our chances when we come back home. We're just playing good baseball, whether it's here or on the road. It's a tough trip we went on this past road trip. A lot of hard-fought games, but we're just playing well, that's the bottom line."