DENVER -- After sweeping the MLB-best Dodgers earlier this week, the D-backs continued their hot streak Friday night at Coors Field, taking down Colorado, 9-5, to win their eighth straight game.The victory pushed the D-backs' cushion for the top National League Wild Card spot to 4 1/2 games over the
DENVER -- After sweeping the MLB-best Dodgers earlier this week, the D-backs continued their hot streak Friday night at Coors Field, taking down Colorado, 9-5, to win their eighth straight game.
The victory pushed the D-backs' cushion for the top National League Wild Card spot to 4 1/2 games over the Rockies. Meanwhile, the Rockies' lead for a playoff berth dropped to 1 1/2 games with Milwaukee's 1-0 win over the Nationals.
D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock took advantage of Rockies starter Kyle Freeland's early struggles, tallying two hits -- including his sixth triple of the year -- and an RBI in the first three innings. It was Pollock's first multihit game since Aug. 17.
"We've been doing that for the past seven to 10 games, where guys are coming up at the right time and coming up with the big hit," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Our guys were ready to execute. They walked up to the plate with a good game plan, and they did their job."
The Rockies closed the gap in the seventh, scoring three to cut the D-backs' lead to 9-5. Trevor Story's two-run double was the team's first hit with runners in scoring position. But the Rockies couldn't continue the comeback, as solid work from D-backs relievers Archie Bradley and Fernando Rodney sealed the win.
Freeland lasted just four innings, as Rockies manager Bud Black utilized the expanded rosters early and often. The rookie left-hander gave up three runs on five hits and 74 pitches. Four of the Rockies' six callups made it into the game before the end of the sixth.
"I didn't set a good tone for this game at all," Freeland said. "Three runs in the first three innings, trying to get out of a jam in each inning, I just wasn't a good tone-setter. And that just snowballs."
D-backs starter Taijuan Walker also struggled with his control, but he had much more success. In five innings, Walker struck out 10 batters while walking three. His first eight outs were strikeouts, becoming only the second pitcher in franchise history to accomplish the feat after Dan Haren in 2010.
"We were just going out there and being aggressive with the fastball again, getting ahead," Walker said. "Getting strike one and strike two. My pitch count got up there a little bit, a couple walks in that first inning, which I didn't like. But I just stayed aggressive, kept attacking them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Gut punch: The D-backs piled on five runs in the seventh, putting the game away. Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino walked three (one intentionally) and committed an error, and Mike Dunn gave up an RBI single to Jake Lamb making it 6-2. Dunn nearly escaped further damage, an impressive feat given the Rockies' three errors in the frame. However, D-backs pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso turned on an 0-2 pitch and deposited it over the right-field wall, giving the D-backs a 9-2 lead.
• Descalso delivers crushing blow off bench
"When you're that close, we just scratched back and got two runs, to have a big inning like that, it [stinks]," Rockies catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "But at the same time, it's one game. The points aren't cumulative, it's not going to roll into tomorrow."
Missing early: After the D-backs put up a run in the first, the Rockies had a chance to come right back in the bottom half. Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez came up with the bases loaded but struck out swinging, continuing the Rockies' August-long trend of missed opportunities. The Rockies finished Friday 1-for-13 with RISP.
"I was able to keep it down," Walker said of his effective curve, which he used to strike out Nolan Arenado and Gonzalez in the first. "You can easily leave it up here, so I really made sure to keep it down."
Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu is one of the most fervent opposite-field hitters in the game, and the D-backs recognized this by putting on an unusual shift. Left fielder David Peralta played in straightaway center during LeMahieu's at-bats, while Pollock positioned himself in the right-field gap. Right fielder J.D. Martinez played almost on top of the foul line. The shift worked on one occasion, as LeMahieu lined a ball right to Pollock in the sixth, but he also managed a double down the right-field line in the first inning.
"We do a lot of work here behind the scenes, and [first-base coach] Dave McKay presented that to me in pregame," Lovullo said. "It's a super shift times 10. Never seen anything like it. [LeMahieu is] a batting champ. He's a guy that uses that side of the field very extensively and very successfully. We just wanted to take away the dominant lanes. We were taking some risks. We felt like we won the moment, and we were able to collect the outs that we were supposed to. Not that he's hitting into it, we just wanted, with his approach, and our ability to command the ball in the zone, we felt like we'd come out on top."
The shift worked on once occasion, as LeMahieu lined a ball right to Pollock in the sixth, but he also managed a double down the right-field line in the first inning.
"I could have pulled a homer down the left-field line with a ground ball," LeMahieu said. More >>
"It's a little uneasy. It's not traditional. But that's what we do here. We do things like that, that we believe in, and we take those risks." -- Lovullo, on seeing nobody in left field during their unprecedented shift against 2016 NL batting champ LeMahieu
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Pollock's first-inning single was his seventh consecutive hit to have produced an RBI. The streak ended when he tripled with the bases empty in the third inning.
D-backs: Left-hander Patrick Corbin heads to the hill for Saturday's middle game in the weekend series at Colorado (5:10 p.m. MST). Corbin has found ways to win against the Rockies, earning a 5-3 record and a 5.23 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). He's been on fire over his past four starts, going 4-0 with a 0.30 ERA, allowing just one earned run in 30 1/1 innings with five walks and 29 strikeouts.
Rockies:Jon Gray starts Saturday's contest beginning at 6:10 p.m. MT. Gray has faced the D-backs once this year, on June 30 -- his first start back from a foot injury that sidelined him for more than two months. He gave up two runs in six innings that start, striking out a season-high 10 batters. Preview >>
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Max Gelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Rockies on Friday.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the D-backs on Friday.