LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies had nary a baserunner for four innings Monday night. Their bucket of fruit candies went asunder as third baseman Nolan Arenado vented in the dugout after a strikeout. Yet, for the first time this season, Colorado is in first place in the National League West.Pinch-hitter
LOS ANGELES -- The Rockies had nary a baserunner for four innings Monday night. Their bucket of fruit candies went asunder as third baseman Nolan Arenado vented in the dugout after a strikeout. Yet, for the first time this season, Colorado is in first place in the National League West.
Pinch-hitter Carlos Gonzalez's soft infield single past the pitcher's mound with two out in the eighth drove in the difference-making run in a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers, as the Rockies took a half-game lead over the D-backs.
"What do you think? We're not hitting good, but that's all over baseball -- teams are not hitting," said Gerardo Parra, whose leadoff homer in the fifth was the first of the Rockies' three hits on the night. "It's good when you are in first place, hitting like we're hitting."
It was the 11th time in the 26-year-old club's history it has won with so few hits, and it has never won with fewer. Gonzalez's hit -- after Tony Wolters walked, stole second and took third on catcher Yasmani Grandal's throwing error -- off Scott Alexander was an example of what can happen when a hitter makes contact.
The Rockies are 3-2 on this road trip, and Gonzalez -- who took second on Chase Utley's throwing error in a desperate attempt to prevent the single -- won two of them with hits. His 12th-inning, two-run single on Thursday night at San Francisco produced a 5-3 victory.
"He hit it in the right spot against a tough lefty with a big sinker," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "We know Alexander from facing him last year in Kansas City."
But the Rockies won as they have so often during a 26-22 start -- with pitching.
Righty German Marquez (3-5) gave up just two hits in seven innings -- matching his fellow 23-year-old starter on Monday, the Dodgers' Walker Buehler. Adam Ottavino erased a one-out walk in the eighth by forcing Justin Turner into a double-play grounder, and Wade Davis earned his 17th save in 19 opportunities, but not without drama.
Matt Kemp hit a two-out infield bouncer and reached as shortstop Trevor Story's throw bounced past first baseman Ian Desmond. However, catcher Wolters hustled to back up the throw, realized Kemp had taken a step toward second -- which meant he could be tagged out -- and flipped to Desmond to back pick Kemp and end the game.
Since Kemp's step toward second was clear, neither he nor manager Dave Roberts protested the call -- which was not reviewable. Davis said he'd never seen the catcher backing up first pay off so well, but that Wolters did it was no surprise.
"Tony is the most exciting catcher I've ever watched play baseball," Davis said.
• Wolters' hustle provides thrilling end to Rox's win
Marquez struck out five against two walks, and the only run came when Player Page for Max Muncy swatted Marquez's first pitch of the fourth over the right-field wall for his fifth homer of the season. But Marquez escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the fifth by striking out Buehler and forcing a fly ball from Joc Pederson. By night's end, Marquez had lowered his road ERA to 2.06 in six starts.
"The key for me was my tempo and my aggressiveness today, and I was able to stay in the moment," Marquez said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating.
The victory came despite another frustrating night for the Rockies' offense.
The starting lineup included sub-.200 batters in positions 6-8 -- Desmond, Wolters and Pat Valaika -- all of whom went hitless. Arenado went nuts in the dugout after swinging through a 97 mph, 0-2 fastball from Buehler. He first slammed his bat until it splintered, then made sure there was no candy for anyone, spiking the bucket on the ground.
Wolters drew the one-out walk from Pedro Baez (1-3) and ended up at third when Valaika swung through a pitch on a hit-and-run. Then the rally nearly fell apart. Baez nearly picked Wolters off third. Then Valaika struck out when he was fooled on a 2-2 Baez slider, but Gonzalez saved the night..
HE SAID IT
"I could've just stayed in my squat and saved my legs." -- Wolters, on hustling to back up first even though it's rarely needed
Righty Chad Bettis (4-1, 3.27 ERA), who has the fourth-lowest road ERA in the National League at 1.83, will meet the Dodgers at 8:10 p.m. MT Wednesday in the second game of the series. The Dodgers have yet to name a starting pitcher, but righty Brock Stewart (0-0, 3.18) is a likely candidate.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.