PHOENIX -- The Rockies brought an end to their season-worst eight-game losing streak on Friday night, thanks to a stellar return from Opening Day starter Jon Gray and a standout performance from star prospect Raimel Tapia in a 6-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.Charlie Blackmon, on the eve
PHOENIX -- The Rockies brought an end to their season-worst eight-game losing streak on Friday night, thanks to a stellar return from Opening Day starter Jon Gray and a standout performance from star prospect Raimel Tapia in a 6-3 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.
Charlie Blackmon, on the eve of his 31st birthday, led off the game with his 17th home run and Tapia added his first big league homer to back Gray (1-0), who struck out 10 for the 10th double-digit strikeout performance of his career.
"I knew it would be a little awkward coming back into a big league situation, but I just wanted to keep the game going, make it as slow as possible and just make pitches," Gray said.
The Rockies led the National League West at the beginning of the skid, and now trail the first-place Dodgers and the D-backs. But a squad that skews young stayed calm until finding victory.
"Even through this last week, our guys have been good," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "As far as our guys, don't worry about our players and their resolve."
In his first start since April 13, Gray scattered two runs over six innings, getting 11 swinging strikes on his slider and walking just one batter.
"I saw some down fastballs, bottom of the zone, good angle," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "He was working the edges of the plate and his slider was more than efficient. Knowing that he was coming off of the foot injury and it's his first outing at this level after a long rehab, I though he did a pretty good job. He gave the Rockies exactly what they needed. … We're a very capable offensive team, so you've got to tip your hat to him."
Arizona took its third straight loss despite a two-homer performance from shortstop Chris Owings. D-backs starter Robbie Ray (8-4) struck out nine in six innings but issued five walks, throwing 122 pitches and allowing four runs.
"I felt like I was around the zone," Ray said. "Just missing; just barely. It was tough. I got behind in the counts and they made me pay for it. I felt like I was right around the zone, but just a tick off."
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Gray's great escape: Owings entered Friday with a .667 lifetime batting average against Gray, and the D-backs shortstop continued his success against the Rockies right-hander with a solo homer in the fourth. When Brandon Drury followed with a double and Daniel Descalso added a walk, it appeared the D-backs could be in business. But Gray answered with three straight outs to escape the jam. Gray didn't allow a hitter to make it past first base from that point on.
Rockie walk around Ray: Colorado's batters took a patient approach into the third that paid dividends. Mark Reynolds and Trevor Story worked back-to-back walks to start the inning and both players went on to score. Pat Valaika moved the runners into scoring position with a groundout to third, and Tapia -- starting regularly because of Carlos Gonzalez's right shoulder strain, which has cost him seven games -- followed with a grounder to second to score one. Ryan Hanigan would add a second run one batter later with a single to left.
"Obviously, we went through this streak as a team but we never quit and we knew it was a matter of staying faithful to the process and we were going to come out of it. All teams go through it. I didn't impose any pressure on myself."-- Tapia (with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating) on the learning experience of breaking into the big leagues and keeping things together through the losing streak
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Blackmon hit his third leadoff homer of the season and the 25th of his career. He leads all active players in leadoff home runs since he made his Major League debut in 2013.
Greg Holland's 26 pre-All-Star break saves tied Huston Street (2011) for the club record before the break.
Rockies: With the exception of his last start -- a 3 1/3-inning, eight-walk nightmare at Dodger Stadium -- righty Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.32 ERA) has been solid on the road. He will start against the D-backs on Saturday night at 8:10 p.m. MT at Chase Field, where he is 2-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four career starts.
D-backs:Zack Greinke is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in his last five starts and he will make his last case for an All-Star spot when he takes the mound against Colorado at 7:10 p.m. MST.
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Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com. He covered the D-backs on Friday.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and** like his Facebook page**.