DENVER -- Nolan Arenado doesn't pay attention to the National League home run leaderboard because he's afraid it will make him worse. But his spot in that ranking -- first -- begs to differ.Arenado launched his 27th home run of the season on Saturday night to stretch his lead to
DENVER -- Nolan Arenado doesn't pay attention to the National League home run leaderboard because he's afraid it will make him worse. But his spot in that ranking -- first -- begs to differ.
Arenado launched his 27th home run of the season on Saturday night to stretch his lead to two over the three-way tie for second, and the Rockies continued their stretch of victories with a 4-1 win over the A's at Coors Field.
"A couple of weeks ago I wasn't getting any hits, and right now, I've gotten a few hits and a few homers," Arenado said. "I'm just trying to stick with the process and hit the ball hard."
Arenado launched his fourth opposite-field clout of the season in the third inning off A's starter Brett Anderson to give the Rockies a 3-1 lead. The 370-foot shot was Arenado's second in two games against Oakland, having homered off Sean Manaea in Colorado's win on Friday night, as well.
Before splitting a two-game series with the Astros earlier this week, the Rockies had won six consecutive series against teams at .500 or above -- their longest series winning streak since 2014. The Rockies (56-47) are at a season-high eight games above .500, and they are still near the top in the National League West, sitting two games behind the first-place Dodgers, who beat the Braves on Saturday.
The Rockies offense found opportunities to score, and their pitching found opportunities to leave runners stranded. Colorado has now won 18 of its last 23 and is 15-4 at Coors Field since June 18, which was the end of their eight-game home losing streak.
Carlos Gonzalez, who is hitting .339/.385/.511 since May 27, clocked a career-high-tying three doubles, while Pat Valaika hit his second home run of the season with a 439-foot shot to the left-field bleachers. Valaika also had an RBI single in the second inning.
"We saw those types of at-bats all of last year from Pat," Rockies manager Bud Black said of Valaika's fourth-inning clout. "It's been a little variable for Pat this year, for sure. But that was great to see. For us to get this done, it's going to take all 25 [players]."
The Rockies strung together enough offense to back starter Antonio Senzatela, who fought through a 38-pitch first inning on his way to throwing a career-high 110 pitches.
Senzatela (4-3) surrendered one run on two hits and walked one in the first, but he settled down after that first inning, allowing three more hits while pitching his way out of jams. The A's stranded nine on Saturday night, making them 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series. Senzatela made it through 5 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking four.
"My mentality tonight against this potent lineup was to really attack with my fastball, get ahead," Senzatela said through a translator. "We all know about their discipline, so just working ahead and finishing them as quickly as possible tonight."
Black said that his club is "playing good baseball" right now, especially with the pitching staff playing as well as it has been lately.
"These guys don't want to be the guy who has the bad outing," Black said. "I love it."
Right-hander Seunghwan Oh made his Rockies debut in the seventh inning. He walked one and allowed one hit but got out of the inning, before Adam Ottavino pitched the eighth and Wade Davis notched his 29th save with a scoreless ninth.
"Our pitching has been great," Arenado said, "and on the offensive side, when you see the pitching competing like that, it gives you a little bit more energy, a little more fire."
CARGO KEEPS RAKING
Of Gonzalez's three doubles on Saturday, the first and third went into left-center field and the second to right-center. That's a sign that "CarGo" is at his hottest at the plate.
"That's a big key, using the entire field -- don't panic if the pitch is middle-in," Gonzalez said. "I feel like when things are going well, I can still drive the ball to the opposite field on pitches on the inside black. That's what I'm doing."
Gonzalez had a slow start to the season but has heated up as the NL West race has. His struggles lasted a little longer last season, going into August. Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon were the only left-handed hitters in the lineup on Saturday against A's southpaw Brett Anderson, a sign that he is feeling it at the plate.
"I enjoy playing these type games," said Gonzalez, who is hitting .278 against lefties this year. "I enjoy playing the second half, when the thing is playing meaningful games. Last year, I did a great job in the second half, even with a slow start. This year, I have the same confidence."
The Rockies are 7-2 in Interleague play at Coors Field this season, tying the franchise record for home Interleague wins in a single season. The other seasons were 2004 and '06.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
It's always a risk to run on Gonzalez in right field, but the A's Nick Martini decided to do just that in the first inning on Saturday, and it barely paid off.
Khris Davis hit a fly ball to Gonzalez with Martini on third base with one out, and Martini took off when Gonzalez caught it. Gonzalez fired it home to catcher Tom Murphy, who laid the tag on Martini, and home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman called him out.
A's manager Bob Melvin challenged the call, though, and about two minutes later, the call was overturned. Replay showed Martini's right foot barely got past Murphy and touched the plate before the tag was applied.
"It was painful when they called him safe," Gonzalez said. "It felt like when you hit the ball really far and then somebody robs you."
Right-hander German Marquez (8-8, 5.00 ERA) will take the mound for the Rockies' series finale against the Athletics at 1:10 p.m. MT on Sunday. He'll face Oakland righty Frankie Montas (5-2, 3.54 ERA). Marquez's ERA has climbed this season because of his home ERA -- 7.31 -- but in his last start at Coors Field, a 19-2 win over the D-backs on July 11, he allowed two runs on five hits while striking out eight in six innings.
Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow her on Twitter at @anne__rogers.