Gray makes Rockies' early offense stand up

Righty earns career-high 11th win as Rox pull within half-game of NL West lead

September 1st, 2018

SAN DIEGO -- In this upside-down time for the Rockies' offense, DJ LeMahieu is a power broker. He's not known for power, but his fourth-inning leadoff homer Saturday was his fifth in his last 20 games.

Then something really unusual happened: followed with a single. Then doubled in a run, and added an RBI single. The three-run breakout -- something that had been sorely missing the previous 10 games -- led the Rockies to a 4-2 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.

The victory, which ended a two-game losing streak and was just the fifth in the last 11, left the Rockies a half-game back of the National League West co-leading D-backs and Dodgers.

LeMahieu's homer -- off Robbie Erlin (3-5) for his 13th of the season -- ended the Rockies' 19-inning scoreless streak and a run of 28 innings without an extra-base hit. Arenado's hit -- which ended a career-worst 0-for-19 skid -- snapped the Rockies' run without consecutive hits of any kind at 118 at-bats.

"The way we've hit the last two days, it felt like we hadn't won in, like, a month," LeMahieu said. "When we can get that lead early like that, it was a good feeling, for sure."

For the names in this lineup, three-run innings should beget more scoring. Alas, all the Rockies managed otherwise was 's bloop RBI single in the sixth. The Rockies left the bases loaded in the eighth. But it was enough to change the mood after managing just three hits in a 13-inning, 3-2 loss on Thursday and being shut out, 7-0, Friday.

"This group is really, really competitive, and this is a group that wants to get this done," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "We jumped on their starter in the middle part of the game and strung some hits together.

"We've got to do a little bit more to continue with a better offense each and every night. But tonight was a good one."

The Rockies won for the 10th time in the last 11 games that righty (11-7) has started.

Gray, whose win total is a career high, gave up seven hits but was hurt by two -- leadoff home runs from in the second and fourth innings -- over six innings. Relying mostly on his fastball to force hitters to put the ball in play, Gray struck out one and walked one.

"When the spin's not working that great, and I felt like I knew what I was doing tonight, I was locating fastballs where they needed to be and we were getting outs," Gray said.

and were spotless in the seventh and eighth, respectively, and secured his 37th save.

SOUND SMART

Holliday, 38, went 2-for-2 and has hit .412 (7-for-17) in seven games since joining the Rockies, after sitting out the first five months of the season. In his last five games, he is 6-for-13 with a homer and two RBIs.

"I'm swinging at good pitches and taking balls on borderline pitches," Holliday said. "One of the keys to hitting is getting a good pitch. I feel good. My swing is in the strike zone a long time and I'm able to hit different pitches, which is a good sign."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

LeMahieu ranged into short right field to field ' bouncer, made a 360-degree spin and fired a strike to first base for the next-to-last out of the game. While his homers were big news, Black noted that plays like that are what round out LeMahieu's value.

"The complete player -- the complete game that certain guys play that helps you win -- is sometimes undervalued," Black said. "We've talked about that with Desmond. We've talked about that about DJ.

"When you win games, it takes a lot of little things to happen. It's not just about statistics. It's not just about analytics. It's about playing the game the proper way to win the game that night, and DJ does a lot of those things."

HE SAID IT

"That was a bad pitch tonight, the slider was just terrible. I can't wait to work on that pitch this week. I'm going to be a hold of that sucker. Find it, and get it back. It will be a little bit easier next time." -- Gray on his slider, which Renfroe hit for two homers

UP NEXT

After a sparkling 3-1 record and 2.15 ERA in six August starts, Rockies lefty (12-7, 2.90 ERA) hopes to start September in style when he faces the Padres and righty (2-2, 4.05) in the series finale at Petco Park on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. MT. Freeland, however, must overcome Petco Park, where he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three games (two starts).