Rox ride three homers to first series win
Cuddyer belts two-run blast; Arenado chips in two solo shots
DENVER -- After smooth sailing in a dominant home opener Friday night, the Rockies had to work for it Saturday, trailing for the first three turbulent frames as their ace struggled to hold down the D-backs. The Rockies fought their way back, however, coming back to snatch a 9-4 win from their division foes and secure their first series victory this year, with a chance at their first sweep coming Sunday.
"We talk about playing well at home and trying to overwhelm teams offensively, and that's what we did," manager Walt Weiss said, savoring the kind of victory that can define the character of a club.
The Rockies showed a resilience they will need to own Coors Field again, battling back from a 4-0 deficit with nine unanswered runs over their last five innings.
"That's something we've done in the past," Carlos Gonzalez said. "The good Rockies teams come back from behind. When we have that confidence in the dugout, it's amazing. You go out and battle every single pitch and believe in yourself and in the team. That's the one thing that we were talking about."
The Rockies made up ground in a hurry in the fourth inning, as Michael Cuddyer slammed his second home run of the season into the Rockies' right-field bullpen, driving in two runs, and Nolan Arenado knocked his first round-tripper of the season off center fielder A.J. Pollock's glove as the outfielder crashed into the fence and the ball sailed into the pines to pull the Rockies within a run.
"It was kind of a weird play," Pollock said. "It's kind of like a perfect storm, right when the twilight is going on. Usually twilight here is tough. Usually I turn my back on the play to get to the wall quicker. My timing was fine; everything was fine. It's just ... it's how it's been going."
The game turned for good in the fifth when Charlie Blackmon helped Colorado claim the lead as he sparked a two-out rally with his second of three hits on the night. After singling, Blackmon stole second and scored on a base hit from DJ LeMahieu to tie the game, and LeMahieu scored from first on a subsequent single to right from Carlos Gonzalez, sprinting around the bases with his focus on third-base coach Stu Coles. LeMahieu got the green, charged for home and slid in safe on a close play at the plate that left catcher Miguel Montero empty handed as he dropped the ball making the tag.
"I was going hard," LeMahieu said. "I couldn't really see the ball behind me, but I could kind of tell from Stu's body language that if he bobbles it, if something happens, we could take an extra base there. It was a great call by him."
The Rockies needed to show resolve after falling behind before getting to the plate. Opening Day starter Jorge De La Rosa looked strong out of the gate, dispensing the first two batters he faced en route to striking out the side in the first. But between the second and third strikeout, De La Rosa walked two and gave up a run-scoring double to Martin Prado, needing 42 pitches to get out of the inning and setting the tone for an inefficient outing.
"They made me work a lot," De La Rosa said. "They made me throw a lot of pitches. I started pretty good, but after that I think I was overthrowing, and my location wasn't there. I wasn't thinking; I was just throwing the ball."
The Rockies' starter yielded only four hits on the night, but he lasted only 4 1/3 innings, adding an unearned run, two more walks and a two-run homer to his line before he exited in the fifth inning with a pitch count of 101.
Arenado gave the Rockies some insurance in the sixth with his second homer of the night, a solo shot to left that gave the Gold Glove third baseman his first multi-homer game of his career.
"I was telling Nolan, 'Stay the course,'" Weiss said. "It's such a long season, you can't get caught up in results after three or four, five games. Just stay the course, and that's what he did. He's showing signs of maturity in that way. It's a great way to bust out."
The Rockies added insurance runs on in the seventh on a deep sacrifice fly from LeMahieu and two more in the eighth on back-to-back-back doubles from Justin Morneau, Arenado, and Jordan Pacheco.
"Every single guy in the lineup is dangerous," Gonzalez said. "Tonight was Nolan Arenado's night. Yesterday was Blackmon. It's going to be more than just Tulo, Cuddy, and CarGo. We need every single guy here, especially those young guys who step up and do what they're doing right now."
Rookie Tommy Kahnle got the win in his second big league appearance, pitching 1 2/3 innings and allowing just one hit.
"I was just trying to keep us in the game so we can get a victory," said Kahnle, who entered after De La Rosa with the Rockies down, 4-0. "I was just going after guys. Let them make contact and let my defense do the work. That's what they're there for."
Adam Ottavino struck out the heart of the order in the seventh, and Rex Brothers and LaTroy Hawkins pitched hitless eighth and ninth innings respectively to set up the chance for a Sunday sweep.
Coasting to the kind of 12-2 victory that marked the Rockies' home opener has its charm, but Saturday's encore may prove even more satisfying.
"We've talked about it from Day 1," LeMahieu said. "We want to overwhelm people. We were running all over the bases today. Coming up with big hits. Big homers. It was fun. I hope we get a lot more of those."