DENVER -- DJ LeMahieu reached base four times and drove in three runs, and the Rockies tagged the Pirates hard and early on Thursday in an 11-5 victory at Coors Field.Colorado did all of its scoring against Pirates starter Jeff Locke, chasing him after 4 2/3 innings. The first four
DENVER -- DJ LeMahieu reached base four times and drove in three runs, and the Rockies tagged the Pirates hard and early on Thursday in an 11-5 victory at Coors Field.
Colorado did all of its scoring against Pirates starter Jeff Locke, chasing him after 4 2/3 innings. The first four Rockies of the game reached base, highlighted by RBI doubles off the wall by LeMahieu and Ryan Raburn. Nolan Arenado drove in two on a double in the second, LeMahieu added a two-run home run in the fourth and Charlie Blackmon capped off the scoring with a two-run single in the fifth.
The game was originally supposed to be played April 28, but it was postponed due to inclement weather. The Rockies were in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and didn't return home until 3:10 MT. The Pirates played the Mets at home on Wednesday and didn't arrive in Denver until 3:24 ET.
"I don't ever question that we're going to play for nine innings," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "We do that well. It was a tough assignment for both teams -- Pittsburgh having to travel out here and us getting back in the wee hours of the morning -- but if you're out there, you might as well get the 'W.'"
The Pirates did well to get after Rockies starter Chad Bettis -- scoring in the first inning on Starling Marte's RBI single and adding four in the third inning -- but couldn't manage much else. Jorge De La Rosa, Justin Miller and Chad Qualls didn't allow a hit in the last six frames, striking out seven.
"This was a challenge today," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "It's not like we didn't show up. We put up five, we battled back to get within one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
De La Rosa's bullpen brilliance: The left-hander had by far his best appearance since being shifted to the bullpen on May 25. The veteran pitched four shutout innings, striking out five and not allowing any baserunners. What's more, he needed only 47 pitches to get through the career-high innings out of relief.
"De La did a great job," Miller said. "He came out there and was just pounding the strike zone. We took that huge lead, and it kind of takes the pressure off us in the bullpen. When we've got that big of a lead, we're just going to fill up the zone and let them get themselves out. We're not trying to do anything special. We're just going and attacking guys. That's the mentality you need to have out of the bullpen every single time, so that lead from our offense really helped."
Little big inning: The Pirates nearly turned the tide in the third inning, putting four runs up on four hits, a walk and a hit batter. Trailing, 6-1, after two innings, Pittsburgh seized momentum on David Freese's three-run blast, making it a 6-5 game. The Bucs stopped there, however, with 14 batters in a row retired before Freese drew an eighth-inning walk.
"That's still a ballgame," Locke said of the Pirates grinding back into the game. "The team hasn't given in, the team hasn't quit on you. You can't quit on them. I could moan and pout and complain about me not having a great day today, but at the end of the day, the team kept fighting behind me, and that's what a good team does."
Answering the call: Pittsburgh nearly tied the game with a big third inning that chased Bettis from the game. But Colorado fought back with LeMahieu's home run in the fourth and added three more in the fifth on an excellent sacrifice bunt by De La Rosa that scored Trevor Story and Charlie Blackmon's two-run single.
"I think De La Rosa coming in and having easy innings really helped us a lot offensively," LeMahieu said. "We really went up there with comfortable at-bats again. We talked about putting teams away when we had the opportunity, and we did a really good job of that today."
Out of rhythm: Just as the Pirates saw enough of Bettis to start to get to him, they had to change gears for De La Rosa's approach in the middle innings. They were never able to crack his code, facing the southpaw for four futile innings that were perfect for De La Rosa.
"De La Rosa's shown the ability to get swing-and-miss stuff and get outs," Hurdle said. "He's got a contract that speaks to that -- especially in this ballpark. He made pitches. He threw strikes with all his pitches. It's the most comfortable and most consistent I've seen him on the mound in quite some time."
"Coming off a nice series win on the road in the division, come here and play a very good Pirate team and get a 'W,' yeah, that's good stuff. You've got to keep it rolling. Tough assignment. Most guys got to bed around 4:30 this morning. Quick turnaround, but guys showed up and got a 'W.'" --Weiss
"What else can you do? Stay here and try to play them again? We'll reset the trap and go home. We're looking forward to a weekend series at home with the Cardinals." --Hurdle, on brushing the game off and moving on
Pirates: The Bucs head home after their one-day trip to Denver and open a three-game set with the Cardinals on Friday at 7:05 p.m. Right-hander Gerrit Cole (5-4, 2.85 ERA) skipped the trip and will make the start in the series opener. He faces Michael Wacha (2-6, 5.16) in a rematch from their May 8 game which Cole won 10-5 in St. Louis, allowing two runs over six innings.
Rockies: Colorado on Friday begins a three-game set against the Padres, whon they visited last weekend in a 1-2 series loss. Jon Gray (4-2, 5.33 ERA) takes the mound for the Rockies at 6:40 p.m., and he was excellent in his start against the Padres last Sunday. He held San Diego to two runs on five hits over seven innings, striking out a career-high 12 batters.
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Ben Weinrib is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Pirates on Thursday.