Rockies' bats break out in return home
Nine batters face Pirates' Liriano in both first, second innings
DENVER -- The run-starved Rockies happily gorged themselves during the first three innings Friday night.
Wilin Rosario doubled in two first-inning runs and homered for two more runs in the second as the Rockies pounded Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano for 10 runs in 2 1/3 innings en route to a 10-1 victory at Coors Field in front of 37,444.
"It was good," said Rosario, whose 16th homer of the season was one of his three hits. "It was good to show we can come back and play well. That's one of the best teams, and we showed we can compete. Everybody today was focused and ready to go."
With his team reeling after a 1-9 road trip and ready to face Liriano (12-5), who pitched seven scoreless innings against the Rockies (53-64) last Saturday, manager Walt Weiss gathered the squad for a "checks and balances" meeting Friday afternoon. Whether that had anything to do with the Rockies' scoring more runs than they had the previous five games (6) is anyone's guess. Nonetheless, the Rockies sent nine batters to the plate in both the first and second innings.
"I felt like the guys certainly attacked the big part of the field and didn't go up there and try to pull him," Weiss said. "He has a great changeup. We made some adjustments to his changeup, let the ball travel.
"I don't think it had anything to do with me. Guys went out there and competed. Some tough stuff has happened over the last week or so. I'm proud of them."
The final score did not show it, but the night teetered toward a two-way scoring parade. The National League Central-leading Pirates (70-45), who entered with the Majors' best record, loaded the bases in the first and second innings, each time with one out.
But Rockies left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (11-6) -- who had given up a combined 11 runs, eight earned, in his previous two starts -- escaped the early traffic with just one run scoring, and he rediscovered his effectiveness enough to throw five innings (eight hits, one run, three strikeouts, three walks).
"The game could've gone either way early," Weiss said. "That's a great job of minimizing some damage there."
De La Rosa has been pitching -- mostly well -- through a left thumb bruise that first appeared in mid-July, and he acknowledged that it bothered him Friday, especially after he grounded out in the second inning. But by then he had his slider and changeup working. He was happy to rebound from his slump.
"That was a bad two games, and I started bad this game, too," De La Rosa said. "But you have to be able to control those things."
In the first, De La Rosa struck out Pedro Alvarez and forced a Gaby Sanchez infield grounder to wiggle free scoreless. Jordy Mercer's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the second accounted for the only run against De La Rosa, who walked Andrew McCutchen to re-load the bases before forcing Russell Martin to ground out to second.
De La Rosa's biggest scare came with two outs in the fourth, when Mercer's line drive bounced off his left triceps for a single. But De La Rosa retired four of the next five batters.
The Rockies drove Liriano's ERA from 2.02 to 2.83. Liriano gave up five first-inning hits and four runs, with Michael Cuddyer's RBI single coming before and Todd Helton's RBI single coming after Rosario's two-run double. Cuddyer finished with three RBIs, while Rosario and Nolan Arenado had three hits, with Rosario coming a triple shy of the cycle.
"I was missing my spot a lot, too, and my slider wasn't as sharp tonight, either," Liriano said. "So we [were] just spinning and getting behind the count a lot, too, missing my spot down the middle. So just one of those days, I think."
Leadoff man Dexter Fowler singled to open the second and took second on shortstop Mercer's throwing error. He advanced to third on DJ LeMahieu's flyout to right. Troy Tulowitzki struck out, then the Rockies strung together five hits -- three for extra bases -- with two outs. Cuddyer singled Fowler home before Rosario delivered his 16th homer of the season. Other runs scored on Arenado's double and Charlie Culberson's single for a 9-1 lead.
Fowler drew a walk from Liriano to open the third and later scored.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who decided to save his bullpen by using infielder Josh Harrison to pitch the eighth inning, hoped Liriano -- who had not pitched at Coors before Friday -- would forget a forgettable performance.
"Nobody likes it," Hurdle said. "He doesn't like it. But it can happen, and that's why there's nights when you just flush it. You don't psychoanalyze it, you don't overcook it, we're not going to look at tape, we're not going to go anywhere with that. He'll start preparing for his next start tomorrow."