DENVER -- It took nearly two months, but the Rockies have finally made themselves at home at Coors Field.A season-best fourth straight night of double figures in hits -- including Trevor Story's first-inning RBI triple, eight doubles that included two by Nolan Arenado and one by starting pitcher Kyle Freeland,
DENVER -- It took nearly two months, but the Rockies have finally made themselves at home at Coors Field.
A season-best fourth straight night of double figures in hits -- including Trevor Story's first-inning RBI triple, eight doubles that included two by Nolan Arenado and one by starting pitcher Kyle Freeland, and David Dahl's two run, pinch-hit homer in the seventh -- led to an 11-4 victory over the Giants on Tuesday night.
The Rockies, who had 15 hits, built their lead in the National League West mainly on solid starting pitching and a 19-13 road record, which covered for a slow start at Coors Field. However, they are 4-1 on a nine-game homestand, and they're in a stretch of 12 of 15 at 20th and Blake.
"We're picking up lately," said Carlos Gonzalez, who went 2-for-5 with an RBI and is 8-for-13 in his last three games. "I feel like we'd been spoiled by the pitchers the entire year. At some point, we knew we were going to get things going."
The three-game series concludes Wednesday night, with the Giants sporting what could be one tired bullpen, for two reasons: First, manager Bruce Bochy matched aggressively by using five relievers in the Rockies' 6-5, 10-inning victory Monday. Then injuries struck Tuesday.
A two-run first that included Story's triple came against Giants starter Jeff Samardzija (1-4), who didn't come back for the second inning because of right shoulder tightness. Righty Dereck Rodriguez, son of Hall of Fame catcher Ivan Rodriguez, entered and struck out four in 3 1/3 innings. However, the second of Kelby Tomlinson's two errors opened the way for Freeland to score and for RBI doubles by Gerardo Parra and Arenado for a 5-0 lead.
And Rodriguez had to leave the game when Ian Desmond's hard single struck him on the lower right leg with one out in the fifth. After using relievers Will Smith and Cory Gearrin, who was responsible for a game-breaking four-run seventh, Bochy went to starter-by-trade Ty Blach to pitch the eighth.
"They used a starter instead of a reliever to try and save some relief for tomorrow, and we took advantage of it," said Charlie Blackmon, who doubled and scored two runs -- one after reaching on Blach's error. "Tomorrow we're in a good position to come out and have another good game."
After some seat-of-the-pants relief pitching from Scott Oberg in the sixth and Mike Dunn in the seventh to hold a 6-3 lead, the Rockies blew it open in the seventh. Desmond flared an RBI double, and Chris Iannetta added an RBI single. Then Dahl -- who didn't start in part for matchup purposes and in part because of a bruised shin suffered Monday night -- launched a two-run shot for his fourth homer of the season and first as a pinch-hitter.
"We stretched it and kept having quality at-bats," Rockies manager Bud Black said.
The lower part of the order, which has struggled much of the year, helped fuel the rally.
"It's a long season and you're going to have those ups and downs -- and we just collectively had them in the first couple months, together," Iannetta said.
Freeland (5-5) cruised through the first four innings scoreless and a one-run fifth, but homers by Buster Posey and Evan Longoria trimmed the lead in half. Freeland left after 5 1/3 innings to fall two outs short of his seventh straight quality start. Longoria homered later off Bryan Shaw.
Even with the damage toward the end of his outing, Freeland left with a 2.19 home ERA this season. Not only did Freeland double, but he sprinted and nearly beat out an infield grounder only to make the final out in the bottom of the fifth. Beyond his effective pitching, his competitiveness has been a spark for the Rockies.
"It's always great when you know the team behind you is playing hard for you; it's a good feeling," Freeland said. "I faced them two starts ago and it was fresh in my mind and fresh in their mind what we needed to do. But the offense exploded for the whole team, and it was a good outing."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A bullpen that saw setup stalwart Adam Ottavino go to the disabled list Monday and didn't have closer Wade Davis available because of workload held the lead when the game was tight:
• Oberg, fresh from Triple-A Albuquerque, replaced Freeland with one on and a 6-3 lead in the fifth and was greeted by Mac Williamson's double to put runners at second and third. But Oberg worked Brandon Crawford into a soft liner to Arenado at third on a 3-2 count and forced a Tomlinson grounder to Arenado. Oberg hustled to take Desmond's throw to beat the sliding Tomlinson.
• Dunn gave up a hit and a walk to open the seventh but worked a Posey fly ball, then forced Andrew McCutchen into a double-play grounder.
Gonzalez's seventh-inning single was his 700th career hit at Coors Field. The only players in club history with more at home were Todd Helton (1,394) and Larry Walker (812).
THE LONG ROUTE BACK
The Rockies recalled Oberg from Albuquerque before Monday's game, but the same hailstorm that delayed that game also forced Oberg's flight from Sacramento, Calif., to be diverted because it didn't have enough fuel to keep circling Denver International Airport.
The flight had to land in -- of all places -- Albuquerque. Oberg paid for internet access and informed the Rockies that he'd be late for work.
"I started laughing on the plane," he said. "I thought I'd left Albuquerque."
After two awful games and a hard beginning of his last start, Rockies righty Jon Gray finished his last start with scoreless ball in the last three of his six innings and ended up with a win over the Reds last Friday. Gray (5-6, 5.40 ERA) hopes to build on that Wednesday night in the season finale against the Giants, who will start lefty Derek Holland (2-6, 4.73). Part of Gray's slump, however, was a road loss to the Giants during which he yielded five runs on nine hits in a season-low 3 2/3 innings.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.