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Gray keeps rotation rolling; Rox win 6th straight

Right-hander's scoreless outing is Colorado's 9th consecutive quality start
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Righty Jon Gray helped the Rockies' rotation make some history Tuesday night.

Gray fanned eight over seven scoreless innings to deliver the starters' club-record ninth straight quality start. He led the Rockies to their sixth consecutive victory, a 4-2 win over the Angels at Coors Field in the opener of a two-game set and six-game homestand.

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DENVER -- Righty Jon Gray helped the Rockies' rotation make some history Tuesday night.

Gray fanned eight over seven scoreless innings to deliver the starters' club-record ninth straight quality start. He led the Rockies to their sixth consecutive victory, a 4-2 win over the Angels at Coors Field in the opener of a two-game set and six-game homestand.

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During the club-record streak, Colorado's starters have posted a 1.92 ERA in 61 innings, with 57 strikeouts against 10 walks. The nine straight quality starts break the previous record of eight, accomplished twice -- July 8-Aug. 6, 2006, and June 4-11, 2009.

"Aggressiveness -- we're not walking guys, we're going at them," Gray said. "That has a lot to do with it. We set the tone ourselves. If you do that, you can control the game. That's what I see a lot of our guys doing."

Gray (4-4), who held the Angels to four hits, began his solid run before the club's streak. He has held opponents to one run in 20 innings -- with 25 strikeouts and three walks -- in his past three outings as he demonstrates why manager Bud Black has made him the team's No. 1 starter the past two years. Most importantly, Gray's effort helped the Rockies (21-15) improve to a game below .500 at Coors, at 6-7.

"That's what this game is all about, pitching," said shortstop Trevor Story, who tripled and scored in the sixth off Halos starter Andrew Heaney (1-2), and doubled in two runs with two out in the seventh off Noe Ramirez. "When they compete like that, we're a very confident team."

After two groundouts in the first, Justin Upton and Albert Pujols singled, and Andrelton Simmons took a close pitch for a walk to load the bases. But with the count full to Zack Cozart, Gray delivered a 90.3 mph slider -- the pitch that was awful at the start of the year but has improved with his past three starts -- for a strikeout.

Video: LAA@COL: Gray K's Cozart to strand the bases loaded

"That's the part of the game where you've just got to lock it down right there, make your best pitches then," Gray said. "Things could get out of hand, and [if] you give up a few runs early, it doesn't set well with the rest of the team.

"I knew I had good stuff. I was going to be fine if I just executed."

Gray also had to change his plan. He expected a veteran Angels lineup with Mike Trout, Upton and Pujols holding the No. 2-4 spots to attack aggressively, but they began the game sitting on the slider. Gray worked his fastball and his changeup -- a pitch he had not used often against righty hitters -- inside against them, and opened up the outer part of the plate for the slider.

"He pitched -- he gained confidence as the game went on," Black said.

Halos manager Mike Scioscia said, "He had a lot working for him out there. We couldn't get the kind of looks we thought we would to kind of pressure him, and he pitched a good ballgame for them."

Gray didn't face trouble until the seventh. Simmons led off with a single and was at second with one out when Scioscia called upon Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani, who put on a pregame batting-practice display with two balls that nearly reached restaurants at the top of the park.

Tweet from @harding_at_mlb: #Angels Shohei Ohtani is putting in a batting practice show at Coors Field. One of his drives nearly made it to the Jack Daniels Bar above the third deck in right. Another reached The Rooftop.Here are your visuals. pic.twitter.com/i6Nka1KVB7

"I'm glad I didn't see that," said Gray, who was in the clubhouse preparing while Ohtani was wowing the crowd. "That's awesome, though."

Gray attacked inside -- up with the fastball and down with the slider to set up a 3-1 fastball that Ohtani rolled to first base. Then Gray coaxed a fly ball from Martin Maldonado to end his night at 99 pitches.

The game turned tighter with two out in the seventh, when Upton drove a deep home run to left off Rockies reliever Adam Ottavino, who had given up one run all season to that point. But Wade Davis pitched the ninth for his 14th save in 15 chances.

Video: LAA@COL: Davis induces a DP to notch his 14th save

SOUND SMART
It's not just Colorado's starters who have been dominant. Since the Rockies gave up 13 runs at home against the Padres on April 23, their pitching staff -- relievers included -- has posted a 2.06 ERA in the past 12 games.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Well, get a load of this on the stat sheet: When Gray pitches to catcher Tony Wolters, his ERA this season is 1.65 -- six runs in 32 2/3 innings. Keep in mind four of those occurred in one inning, during an April 14 loss at Washington.

Wolters complimented Gray on being able to execute the strategy swerve.

"With a more veteran team, they know Jon has a really good slider," Wolters said. "You would think they would be a little more aggressive, just knowing. But at the beginning of the game, they were very patient.

"We came back in the dugout, talked with the pitching coach [Steve Foster] and Bud and decided, 'OK, we need to get the fastball where you want it. That's the No. 1 priority, then get that slider working.'

"Jon simplified it to, 'That's all I need to do? Let's do it.'"

MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
Nolan Arenado, not the fastest runner by any means, needed a review -- and a real good angle to uphold home-plate umpire Jordan Baker's call -- to score from first for the second run of Story's double in the seventh. Arenado slid past the plate and tapped it with his left hand.

Video: LAA@COL: Arenado avoids tag at the plate, call stands

It took a magnified angle to show that although Maldonado's catcher's mitt was there in time, it didn't make contact with Arenado's hand.

UP NEXT
A deft mix of pitches helped Rockies left-hander Tyler Anderson (2-0, 3.78 ERA) pitch seven innings with nine strikeouts -- both season highs -- in a win over the Cubs in his last start. On Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field, Anderson will face the Angels for the first time in his career. Halos starter Jaime Barria (2-1, 3.46) beat the Orioles in his last start by throwing six solid innings -- the first 5 1/3 hitless. First pitch is set for 1:10 p.m. MT.

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