Gregorius ignites comeback at Coors
DENVER -- The D-backs finally put it all together at Coors Field on Sunday, using their getaway-day mojo to make the most of another solid pitching effort, a ball or two that bounced their way and, at long last, some situational hitting as a ninth-inning rally gave them their first lead of the series and a 5-4 win over the Rockies.
After scraping across a run in the eighth to climb within one at 4-3, the D-backs roared back in the ninth, building momentum as soon as Didi Gregorius stepped into the box and singled to center to lead off the inning against reliever Wilton Lopez.
"The first pitch he threw me was a little inside, so I didn't swing at it," Gregorius said. "I think he was trying to throw the same pitch and he luckily left it a little bit out over the middle and I hit the ball and got on base."
Timely hitting? Check.
Up came A.J. Pollock, who bounced a high chopper to third and caught Jonathan Herrera playing in a couple steps, allowing the ball to bounce over his head for a double to left to put men on second and third with nobody out.
"I was playing two steps in front of third base," Herrera said. "It was perfect. He was swinging and the ball was over my head. I did my best. I almost caught that ball, but there's nothing you can do."
Pinch-hitter Alfredo Marte hit another high hopper to third, and with Gregorius running on contact, Herrera had no play at the plate as the tying run came home. Gerardo Parra followed with a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Pollock for the go-ahead run.
A couple breaks? Check. Smart situational hitting? Check, check.
"We finally got a break," manager Kirk Gibson said. "Herrera's playing him in at third base and luckily the ball went over his head, so it was a good break for us. We got 'em over, got 'em in, and then J.J. [Putz] finished it off."
Colorado took the early lead, with starting pitcher Juan Nicasio igniting a one-out rally in the third with a bloop single to right. Eric Young Jr. kept the rally rolling with a soft single to center and Jordan Pacheco drove Nicasio home with a single up the middle. Carlos Gonzalez capped the rally with a two-run single to left, giving the Rockies a 3-0 lead after three.
D-backs starter Brandon McCarthy has been plagued by odd innings that turn the game around in otherwise solid outings, and the third fit the bill. He's come up with a solution, however.
"More defenders," McCarthy said, joking. "I hate putting it into luck's hands, but there's only so much you can do with bad contact balls blooping in. Once it leaves my hand, I can't control it. The innings are mostly falling like that. Most of the innings where I've given up runs, it's just pitches that are finding holes."
Solid pitching? Check.
McCarthy, who spent much of his youth in Colorado, had a strong enough outing in a no-decision. He gave up four runs on eight hits over six innings, walking none while striking out two and throwing 96 pitches. McCarthy allowed hits in all but his first inning of work, but he avoided the big inning, faltering primarily in the decisive three-run third.
"It's nice that we keep doing this in games where they're on the border of being loseable games and we turn them into winnable games," McCarthy said. "We're keeping games close, which is good, and when we need to, we're coming through. Eventually, we'll get back in our game and everything will fall back in line and then we can start winning games comfortably, but in the meantime, as long as we're not giving up, it's a good thing."
The D-backs got on the board early by their recent standards, thanks to a leadoff homer over the right-field scoreboard in the fifth by Gregorius. On Friday and Saturday, Arizona didn't score until the ninth and eighth innings, respectively, and they were on track for another set of flat early innings, going hitless until Gregorius' blast.
"Didi's swinging good," Gibson said of his rookie shortstop, who has homered in two of his first three games with the D-backs and is hitting .545 (6-for-11). "We had no hits and he walked up there. He sees the ball well. He's got a real good approach with two strikes. He's a tough out."
Pollock and Parra followed Gregorius' homer with a single to center and double to right, respectively, chasing Nicasio from the game. Paul Goldschmidt brought the D-backs within one on a single to left to plate Parra before Miguel Montero grounded to first to end the inning.
Troy Tulowitzki launched his second homer of the series, a shot to center to lead off the sixth and extend the Rockies' lead to two.
Arizona climbed back within a run in the eighth inning, making the most of a one-out walk to Goldschmidt from reliever Matt Belisle. With two outs, Cody Ross snapped a series-long 0-for-10 streak with a double over right fielder Michael Cuddyer's head to plate Goldschmidt..
After taking the lead in the ninth, Putz came on to close it out and earn his third save of the season, retiring Young on a comebacker with runners at first and third for the final out.
"We got a bunch of scrappy guys on this team," Putz said. "We've been in every single game this entire trip so far. A couple bounces here and there and it's a different road trip, so far, but we got three big games coming up in San Fran. We look forward to the challenge. They're the defending champs, so it's going to be fun to go in there."
The win kept the D-backs undefeated in series finales and getaway days at 6-0 and 5-0, respectively.