PHOENIX -- Much of Sunday afternoon had an unwarranted celebratory feel from the Rockies' side. Yes, they had a two-run lead over a D-backs team that saw the switch on its postseason hopes flipped to off, but still …However, emerging star pitcher Kyle Freeland let nothing disturb his cool efficiency.
PHOENIX -- Much of Sunday afternoon had an unwarranted celebratory feel from the Rockies' side. Yes, they had a two-run lead over a D-backs team that saw the switch on its postseason hopes flipped to off, but still …
However, emerging star pitcher Kyle Freeland let nothing disturb his cool efficiency. Freeland escaped jams in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings, and the bullpen teetered but held on for a 2-0 victory to complete a three-game sweep at Chase Field -- and keep pace in the postseason race.
"With Arizona's lineup, we all know how it is. It can wake up at any moment and throw four or five runs on you, whenever," Freeland said. "A little uncomfortable when it came to the fact it was a tight game, we're in a tight race, and we were trying to get this last win to sweep them. But it was fun."
It's gonna get even more fun.
The victory kept the Rockies 1 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading Dodgers and the Cardinals, who hold the second Wild Card position. Now comes a seven-game homestand, four against the Phillies starting Monday followed by three against the Nationals, to see if the Rockies can find their way into the postseason.
"We know where we are, we know what's in front of us," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "We've got to play our game."
Sunday's finale was like the rest of the road trip: They got stellar starting pitching from Freeland (16-7), who gave up seven hits and struck out six batters over seven innings. German Marquez, Antonio Senzatela and Freeland posted a 1.29 ERA in the series.
Nolan Arenado's third-inning RBI double and Gerardo Parra's RBI single in the fifth, both off Zack Godley (14-11), came on a day when the Rockies scratched out as little as possible with their opportunities. The offense struck out 13 times and left nine runners on base.
Ian Desmond fanned with the bases loaded to end the first and hit into a double play after Parra's delivery, and DJ LeMahieu grounded into a double play in the ninth when the Rockies could have extended the lead.
It was shades of the first six games of the nine-game road trip, when poor offense was the key reason the Rox won just one of those and plummeted into their precarious postseason predicament.
But they had Freeland.
With two on and one out in the fourth, he forced a Nick Ahmed foul pop and an A.J. Pollock fielder's choice. Freeland coaxed an Eduardo Escobar popup to end the fifth with two on. Only after Escobar's popup with two on to end the seventh -- after a visit from Black that simply laid out strategy, with all parties involved understanding that Paul Goldschmidt was on deck and Freeland wouldn't face him -- did Freeland let his inner fire out by yelling and punching his glove as he exited the diamond.
"We've seen that quite a bit this year from him, when he comes out, gives you a breath of air, and he's kind of like, 'Hey, go get this guy. This is yours. Go finish this thing off and let's get back in the dugout and get some insurance runs,'" Freeland said of Black.
Adam Ottavino, part of a right-handed-bullpen contingent that has been used almost exclusively with leads, walked two with one out in the eighth. But Seunghwan Oh bailed him out with a strikeout of Pollock and a flyout from Ketel Marte, and Wade Davis earned his NL-leading 41st save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
What seemed a routine fly caused a collective Rocky Mountain gasp.
With one out and one on in the sixth, Ahmed sent a fly ball that Parra had to catch right before the left-field wall.
"It did not sound like he got good wood on it," Freeland said. "But then I was watching 'GP' run after it, and the ball kept going. Then I saw 'GP' turn on the track, and he was still looking up at it. That's when I kind of exhaled."
Parra said the reaction from the crowd didn't match the contact.
"I think he was jammed a little bit, and I'm happy because Freeland is my man," Parra said.
The relief record book added some names. Ottavino's strikeout of eighth-inning leadoff man Goldschmidt was his 108th, which surpassed Curtis Leskanic's 1995 total for the club record. Davis' 41st save tied him with Jose Jimenez (2002) and Greg Holland ('17) for the club mark.
Shortstop Trevor Story hasn't played since last Monday, when right elbow inflammation flared after a throw during a game at Dodger Stadium. Story has made major progress, and he tested the arm on the field before Sunday's game. Black waited until close to first pitch to release his lineup, which had Garrett Hampson at short.
"Really close -- I think 'Trev' is getting really close," Black said. "We'll see tomorrow. It could be one of those things where we get him on the field and trust where Trevor is mentally and how his confidence is with his elbow."
Lefty Tyler Anderson (6-9, 4.76 ERA) has corrected his delivery issues and has been solid in his last two starts, posting a 3.00 ERA with 10 strikeouts and two walks. Anderson will open the pivotal seven-game homestand against the Phillies, who counter with righty Zach Eflin (11-7, 4.09) at 6:40 p.m. MT on Monday.
"I love it; you've got to," said Anderson, who had a strong second half last season and hopes to reprise that at the end of this year. "I keep telling myself that this is what I've wanted my whole life. As it gets closer, you start smelling it and really want to go after it."
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.