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Arenado's 5 RBIs power Rockies over Mets

Third baseman homers in 3rd straight game to back Freeland's 6 innings
MLB.com @harding_at_mlb

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado picked the right pitcher to keep his current homer-a-day diet going.

Arenado homered in his third straight game -- for three runs in the first inning off Mets lefty starter Steven Matz -- then added a two-run double off Matz in the second to account for five RBIs in Colorado's 6-4 victory over New York on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.

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DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado picked the right pitcher to keep his current homer-a-day diet going.

Arenado homered in his third straight game -- for three runs in the first inning off Mets lefty starter Steven Matz -- then added a two-run double off Matz in the second to account for five RBIs in Colorado's 6-4 victory over New York on Thursday afternoon at Coors Field.

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Arenado's 16th homer of the season -- a 387-foot shot to left field, as projected by Statcast™ -- and the two-run double the opposite way to right helped Arenado improve to 5-for-14 (.357) with 12 RBIs against Matz. The double was Arenado's first hit off Matz that wasn't a homer.

"Matz is a good pitcher -- I don't go up there thinking, 'I can't wait to face Matz,'" Arenado said. "[Almost] all my hits are just homers. He's beaten me, but I was able to hit a couple mistakes today and he struck me out looking."

Video: NYM@COL: Rockies on performances in 6-4 victory

Matz said: "I threw a couple bad pitches and Arenado beat me twice. That really sums it up -- the whole game."

The Rockies claimed the four-game set against the Mets with their season-high third straight victory at home. The win also pulled the Rockies, who at one time led the National League West, to a game below .500 (37-38). One reason is Arenado's resurgence.

Since a career worst 0-for-19 slump ended with a double in his second at-bat last Friday at Texas, Arenado is 12-for-28 (.429) with four homers, five doubles and 14 RBIs.

"When we were losing and not getting any hits and I was not doing anything to help, it was disappointing," Arenado said. "It keeps me up at night."

Video: NYM@COL: Freeland strikes out four in six innings

Arenado can sleep easier after helping lefty Kyle Freeland (7-6), who dealt with base traffic in five of his six innings but held the Mets to two runs. And Colorado got key contributions from a bullpen so depleted that the Rockies summoned Triple-A Albuquerque starter Yency Almonte and optioned Ryan McMahon, who had the game-winning homer in Wednesday night's 10-8 victory.

Todd Frazier's first-inning solo homer was the first of five hits off Freeland, who walked four. But Freeland forced three double-play grounders, and the Rockies' five total double-play grounders tied the club record for a nine-inning game, set May 23, 2010, at Kansas City. Grounding into five double plays also tied a Mets record.

"It's a complete momentum shift, and it adds to the momentum you already have," Freeland said of the double plays.

Video: NYM@COL: Rockies turn club-record 5 double plays

Jeff Hoffman forced a key double-play grounder from Amed Rosario in the seventh, and Chris Rusin struck out Brandon Nimmo with one on to end the inning. When Rusin gave up two hits to open the eighth, Almonte debuted by retiring Wilmer Flores on a sacrifice fly and coaxing a double play from Devin Mesoraco.

Jake McGee pitched the ninth for his first save of the season, but not before giving up a Kevin Plawecki leadoff triple and a run. Still, the Rockies avoided their heavily worked usual eighth- and ninth-inning righties, Adam Ottavino and closer Wade Davis, as well as righty Bryan Shaw and lefty Harrison Musgrave.

Lefty starter Tyler Anderson warmed up in the eighth, and righty starter German Marquez also was deemed available for bullpen duty.

"To get to where we wanted to be, it's gotta be the collection of all Rockies," manager Bud Black said. "Today, we saw that."

Video: NYM@COL: Black on Freeland, run production in 6-4 win

Gerardo Parra's eighth-inning sacrifice fly -- his fourth RBI in the series -- extended the Rockies' lead to three runs.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Most of Almonte's bullpen experience came last year in the Arizona Fall League and coming in during clean innings during Spring Training. He never dreamed he'd face the potential tying run in a game the team needed, with two on and no outs in the eighth inning. Bullpen coach Darren Holmes reassured him before he forced the Flores flyout and the Mesoraco double play.

"'Homie' was like, 'Hey, this is the same game you're playing down there in Triple-A; just go out there and attack,'" Almonte said.

Almonte -- ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Rockies' No. 9 prospect -- clapped his hands in celebration after the double play, then plate umpire Adam Hamari stopped him before he reached the dugout.

"I thought I was in trouble because I was going crazy out there," Almonte said. "He walked up to me and said, 'Hey, stay right here.' I froze and said, 'What happened?' He said they were going to see if [the Mets] were going to challenge. Then he said, 'You're good.' I went from excited to stopping to back to excited." More >

Video: NYM@COL: Almonte gets double play in MLB debut

SOUND SMART
Ian Desmond drew three walks on both Wednesday and Thursday to become the fourth player in team history to draw that many walks in consecutive games. Larry Walker did it twice, taking seven walks in both instances, from Sept. 4-5, 1998, and May 22-23, 2003. The others were Todd Helton (May 30-31, 2000) and Jonathan Herrera (April 9-10, 2011).

TWO STRIKES, AND NO MORE
Arenado's homer and the double came with two strikes. He fanned against Matz in the fourth inning, but the day brought his eye-popping two-strike batting average to .290 (40-for-138). Arenado entered Thursday with the third-highest two-strike average in the Majors behind the Red Sox's Mookie Betts (.321) and the Mariners' Jean Segura (.297).

Arenado talks about "shortening up," but that isn't a physical change. It's a reminder to use the entire field, as he did on the double.

"It's not swing-wise; it's a mental way of shortening up, let the ball get a little deeper," Arenado said. "You don't see me swinging out of my shoes in those situations, but I'm still getting my swing off, and I'm still trying to hit the ball hard and drive it."

Video: NYM@COL: Arenado rocks a two-run double to right

UP NEXT
Friday night's 6:40 p.m. MT opener of three games at Coors Field against the Marlins is another chance for Rockies righty Jon Gray (6-7, 5.89 ERA) to get through a start smoothly. That's been a challenge, as his last two starts demonstrate. On June 12 at Philadelphia, Gray gave up three first-inning runs, but then was dominant for much of his six innings. On Sunday at Texas, he cruised until the sixth -- when two errors with no outs started a five-run mess that had him out of the game before recording an out in the frame. The Marlins will start Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 5.91 ERA).

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, Nolan Arenado