LeMahieu's clutch HR, 5 RBIs save Rockies

Arenado ties NL home run lead; Black stays above .500 vs. Giants

June 28th, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO -- Relieved Rockies relief pitcher leaned over the back of the leather chair that DJ LeMahieu was sitting in and gave him a hug and a smile.
LeMahieu's two-run homer off Sam Dyson with one out in the top of the ninth capped a five-RBI performance to help the Rockies end their losing streak at four games with a 9-8 victory over the Giants on Thursday.
And now, there are three months and change left in this season -- plenty of time to recover from a 39-42 record.
But the Rockies absorbed 3-2 and 1-0 losses the previous two nights. Then, on Thursday, they watched No. 1 starter squander a 5-2 lead and leave without managing an out in the fifth. Star third baseman made a key error to set up 's RBI double off Jake McGee in the seventh, bringing the Giants within a run. And Ottavino experienced tough luck while losing the lead in the eighth.
But LeMahieu's homer, his eighth of the season, gave the Rockies their first victory in 38 games when trailing after eight innings.

"We really didn't do a whole lot of anything the last couple days, came out with a whole lot of energy, good mindset," LeMahieu said. "We were out to win a ballgame today. We were on a mission. It was really good to win that one."
Throughout, LeMahieu keyed the Rockies' refusal to walk away with another one-run disappointment.
"This was a tough game," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "I've said it so many times over the years in this ballpark against the Giants. Names change, years change, it seems like in this park against this organization, there are a lot of games like this.
"It was a day game when some funky things happen, but our guys are resilient."
The Rockies had gone 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position the first two games against the Giants and 1-for-16 during their losing streak. But LeMahieu was primarily responsible for the Rockies' 5-for-10 performance in the same situation on Thursday.
LeMahieu's RBI single in the fourth was the Rockies' third hit with runners in scoring position in the four-run inning, after 's RBI single and 's two-run triple, all against Giants starter Chris Stratton.
LeMahieu added a two-run single in the seventh off for a 7-5 lead. And he was there for the team after Ottavino (4-1) gave up two soft hits as well as a walk, then 's double, which bounced inside the first-base line to drive in two eighth-inning runs to put the Rockies behind, 8-7.

"It was big. I snapped after my inning was over," said Ottavino, who ended up kicking a wall after his outing. "I let the team down there. Stuff didn't go right."
Chris Iannetta singled to open the ninth, and LeMahieu homered two batters later. Not known as a power hitter, LeMahieu hit five in the season's first 17 games. Since then the homers have been well-spaced, and Thursday's was timely.
"I just used my knowledge from a couple nights ago, pretty much the same situation," LeMahieu said. "I just put a good swing on the fastball."
Arenado homered off Stratton in the top of the first to tie the Nationals' and the Brewers' for the National League lead with 19. But Gray hung a slider that parked for two runs in the bottom of the frame. After the big top of the fourth, Gray's puzzling issues surfaced.

After two walks and Joe Panik's two-run double, 's RBI single tied the game. Gray escaped without further damage. But two infield singles -- Belt's bunt to beat a shift, and McCutchen's single that a diving LeMahieu couldn't corral behind second -- chased Gray. Lefty Chris Rusin pitched out of the mess, going two innings to forge his sixth scoreless outing in his last seven.
Gray, the Rockies' Opening Day starter the last two years, has been inconsistent all year, and his recent drop in velocity adds to the issues. He averaged a season-low 93.1 mph on his four-seam fastball -- a full two mph below his season average. 

"Its [velocity] is down a little bit right now, but then again, a good pitch is a good pitch, and an executed pitch is a good one, too," Gray said. "I'm just focused on being at the bottom of the zone."
Like Ottavino, Gray was appreciative of LeMahieu for keeping his bad day from being a losing one for the Rockies.
"The guys couldn't pick me up any better in every part of the game -- defensively, bullpen and of course, DJ," Gray said. "The last hit was big-time."
When Rusin replaced Gray with no outs in the fifth, lined a pitch toward second base, but the ball landed in the glove of perfectly positioned shortstop , who stepped on second to eliminate Belt for an unassisted double play. With the score tied, the play ended that segment of the Giants' momentum.

From the time he walks through the clubhouse doors, his focus is on winning the game. As it gets closer to game time, in the dugout prior to the first pitch, man, he is all in. It's great to witness his intensity, his focus and his desire to win. It's every day. He'll remember this. It's a good one. -- Black, on LeMahieu
With the win, Black stayed above .500 when managing against the Giants. The victory left him 92-90 vs. San Francisco, the former pitcher's team from 1991-94.
Left-hander (4-3, 4.62 ERA) will try to extend a trend of solid road pitching when he faces the Dodgers and left-hander Rich Hill (1-2, 5.30) on Friday night at 8:10 p.m. MT at Dodger Stadium, in the opener of a three-game series. Anderson is 3-0 with a 4.08 ERA in nine road starts this season, and 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA, 11 strikeouts and one walk in 14 innings over his last two road starts.