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Gray fans 12 as Rockies roll to 4th straight win

Arenado blasts 17th homer to punctuate six-run fourth inning
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jon Gray showed up at Coors Field on Friday night in white shoes, and they stayed as clean as they could on a mound. His kicks were much like his performance.

Gray fanned 12 in seven innings and yielded just one run as the Rockies -- who returned to .500 for the first time since June 9 -- extended their longest home win streak of the season to four games with an 11-3 victory over the Marlins.

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DENVER -- Rockies right-hander Jon Gray showed up at Coors Field on Friday night in white shoes, and they stayed as clean as they could on a mound. His kicks were much like his performance.

Gray fanned 12 in seven innings and yielded just one run as the Rockies -- who returned to .500 for the first time since June 9 -- extended their longest home win streak of the season to four games with an 11-3 victory over the Marlins.

View Full Game Coverage

"I had to change something up," said Gray, who hadn't turned in a truly dominating performance since throwing seven scoreless innings in a 4-2 Rockies victory over the Angels on May 8. "I had to change my walkout [from Johari's "Wind" to the Monuments' "Origin of Escape"] and change my shoes.

"I still had some white shoes from when I had the best game of my life. I don't know why I stopped wearing them."

On Sept. 17, 2016, Gray was wearing white shoes when he fanned a Coors Field-record 16 in an 8-0 shutout of the Padres. On Friday, he had the same catcher as that night -- Tom Murphy.

"It was very similar to that night," said Murphy, who went 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs on Friday. "He had a great game plan. His pregame bullpen, all his preparation was spot-on."

Video: MIA@COL: Rockies erupt for 6 runs in the 4th inning

The performance -- on a night when Nolan Arenado homered for the fourth straight game, a two-run shot in a six-run fourth inning -- was a long time coming. Gray (7-7) struggled starting in mid-May. But in his frustrating last three starts, he had stretches of dominance but made enough mistakes to keep the concern level high.

Gray scattered eight hits, but didn't walk anyone and wiggled out of any real trouble.

"I had good, positive vibes going throughout the whole game -- I didn't go into that weird, negative spot," Gray said.

A June 6 win at Cincinnati was a forward step, but he threw 101 pitches in just five innings. His last two starts -- a loss at Philadelphia on June 12 and a no-decision at Texas last Sunday, featured mostly dominating stuff but couldn't avoid the big inning that kept him and the Rockies out of the win column.

Video: MIA@COL: Arenado lifts a 2-run homer to left-center

As an example of how scattershot Gray has been, Friday left him just 2-2 in games in which he has reached double figures in strikeouts this season.

"It looked from the dugout that he had a pretty high degree of focus," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "And he looked a little calmer tonight, which is something we've talked about for a couple of years. But it's a process for a lot of young pitchers."

Gray pitched out of a jam in the first, stranding runners on second and third with one out by fanning Justin Bour and forcing a Starlin Castro fly out to center. All the Marlins managed off him was Derek Dietrich's third-inning solo homer.

And unlike Sunday -- when he entered the sixth inning with a 5-1 lead only to give up five runs, three on a Jurickson Profar homer, and left with no outs -- Gray didn't give away the momentum.

Video: MIA@COL: Rockies discuss their win over the Marlins

Gray, who drove in one of the runs in the fourth on a safety squeeze and scored on Charlie Blackmon's two-out single, yielded two hits in the top of the fifth. But he fanned Bour to end the frame, then completed his outing with little trouble.

"The more those situations are going to come up and the more times I can go out there and get that job done, I think it's going to help for more games coming up," Gray said.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Ian Desmond has hit safely in 16 of his last 24 games, and that's only part of his contribution. For example, he walked six times in the final two games of the series win over the Mets. And while Friday's 2-for-4 left his season average at .217, he exhibited his value twice with aggressive baserunning.

Desmond was at first when Murphy doubled into the left-field corner in the second inning. Desmond never hesitated and scored the Rockies' first run.

Video: MIA@COL: Murphy opens the scoring with an RBI double

In the fourth, Gonzalez poked a Wei-Yin Chen pitch past shifted Marlins third baseman Miguel Rojas. Desmond again didn't hesitate and dashed to third, which drew a throw from left fielder Dietrich. Rojas noticed that Gonzalez didn't stop after rounding first and threw to second. Castro dropped the throw and Desmond alertly scored.

In Thursday's game against the Mets, Desmond went first-to-third late, and ended up scoring a key run on a sacrifice fly in the Rockies' 6-4 victory.

Desmond said the whole team's aggressiveness is paying off.

"It's not just today," Desmond said. "We've got one of the highest stolen-base success rates in the league, we're doing much better going first-to-third as a team. We are going on balls in the dirt. There are a lot of good things happening.

"Today turned into a snowball fight. Everyone loves that."

SOUND SMART
Friday demonstrated how dangerous the Rockies can be if they pitch well. They have averaged 7.8 runs while going 4-1 on this homestand. Since May 26 they've averaged 6.5 runs, but a pitching slump -- starters and relievers -- has left the team 11-14.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Shortstop Trevor Story doubled on a 1-for-5 night, but his glove was his biggest argument for inclusion on the National League All-Star team.

After Dietrich's homer in the third, Story ranged hard to his right for a Brian Anderson grounder and made a jump throw reminiscent of Troy Tulowitzki's days as a Rockies Gold Glove shortstop.

Video: MIA@COL: Story robs Anderson with a backhanded play

In the fifth with one on, Story ranged to his right again and made a difficult across-the-body throw to second to force out Dietrich.

Video: MIA@COL: Story makes backhanded stop, gets forceout

"If we get ground balls, that's what we're all about," Story said. "We feel like we can turn most of them into outs. We're very prideful in our defense."

HE SAID IT

"It's just quality at-bats -- DJ [LeMahieu], Charlie, right now I am, Ian -- guys are just getting on base. [Gerardo] Parra's obviously hitting, CarGo -- our offense is just clicking right now." -- Arenado, on an offense that has matched a season high with six runs in a homestand for the third time in the last eight games

UP NEXT
The excitement begins Saturday at 10:30 a.m. MT with the Rockies' 25th Anniversary Photo Day. Todd Helton, Larry Walker and other stars past and present will take photos with fans. There will be an alumni batting practice at 11:30 a.m. and a special pregame ceremony. Lefty Tyler Anderson (4-2, 4.52) will face the Marlins and righty Trevor Richards (1-4, 5.45) at 1:10 p.m.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Jon Gray