DENVER -- No matter how many pitches it took, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story didn't let another potential big inning go to waste.It took nine pitches from Marlins righty Jose Urena before Story lashed a three-run homer that sparked a 6-0 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Coors Field
DENVER -- No matter how many pitches it took, Rockies shortstop Trevor Story didn't let another potential big inning go to waste.
It took nine pitches from Marlins righty Jose Urena before Story lashed a three-run homer that sparked a 6-0 victory over the Marlins on Tuesday night at Coors Field -- one that improved their handle on the second National League Wild Card, even though the two teams behind team, the Brewers and Cardinals, each won.
The Rockies, who won for just the third time in their last nine games, maintained leads of 1 1/2 games over the Brewers and 2 1/2 over the Cardinals in the race for the second National League Wild Card, and reduced their magic number to four over Milwaukee and three over St. Louis. At stake is a meeting with the D-backs in next Wednesday's Wild Card Game in Phoenix.
• NL Wild Card standings
In addition to Story's homer, Nolan Arenado also added a two-run shot in the fifth. So much for the team's .215 September batting average with runners in scoring position.
"It's no secret, we've struggled a little bit," said Story, who has 23 homers -- after hitting 27 as a rookie last season. "We believe we're going to break out. All it takes is one hit here or there and a lot of games are different."
Story's big night wasn't just limited to his offense, as he had two fine defensive plays to help ensure the Rockies held ground in the Wild Card race.
In that first inning, Carlos Gonzalez grounded into a double play with runners at the corners, although Charlie Blackmon scored. But Arenado singled hard to center and Mark Reynolds singled off shortstop Miguel Rojas' glove to set the stage for Story.
"We got the double-play ball from CarGo there, to give up a run but to clear the bases," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "If we can get out of that with one, at least we're in the ballgame."
But Story took care of that. With the count 2-2, Story fouled off three of the next four pitches to run the count full before crushing Urena's 95.6 mph fastball for his 23rd homer a 4-0 lead.
"I fought of some tough pitches and just got one I could handle," Story said.
The lead was more than enough for Rockies pitcher Tyler Anderson, who saw just one runner reach second base, and struck out five against four hits and no walks. Anderson also erased leadoff singles in the second and fourth by coaxing inning-ending double-play grounders.
"Pitch execution throughout the game -- that's how you do it," said Rockies manager Bud Black, who also watched relievers Chris Rusin and Mike Dunn completed the Rockies' ninth shutout of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Arenado to the rescue: The Rockies' old problem reappeared in the fourth. They loaded the bases, but Urena forced a DJ LeMahieu grounder to end the threat. But Gonzalez doubled to center to open the fifth, then Arenado sent Urena's fastball over the center-field wall for his 36th homer and his 182nd hit, which tied a career-high he set last season.
The Gonzalez double was part his three-hit night and a 12-hit Rockies breakout. Blackmon (1-for-2, three walks), Arenado, who has been driving the ball to center and right for his last four games, and Reynolds (2-for-3) also found success.
"Overall, the collection of at-bats and swings were better tonight," Black said.
Here's your chance … nah: Anderson gave up consecutive hits to Brian Anderson and Rojas to open the sixth. But he caught A.J. Ellis looking at a third strike. He then retired Dee Gordon on a fly ball and Giancarlo Stanton on a bouncer to the mound to escape any trouble.
"He didn't walk anybody, which is huge against us," Gordon said. "You give us extra outs, we usually capitalize. We weren't able to capitalize on anything he did, because he kept the ball down in the zone. He didn't really give us much to hit." More >>
"I made a few mistakes early in the season, and that could have cost me. I think I played the last five months of the season pretty well, so we'll see what happens. I know I'm pretty good defensively. That's a testament to Coach "Bone" [Perry Hill], and Barry Larkin working with me during the off season as well. If I didn't make those errors early, it would probably be no contest for the Gold Glove. We'll see what happens." -- Gordon, on his chances of winning a second Gold Glove after flashing leather Tuesday night
Gonzalez attempted to stretch a single into a double off the right-field wall in the seventh, and and was called safe after a bullseye throw from Stanton, but the Marlins challenged and the call was overturned when it was determined Gonzalez had bounced off the bag when Rojas applied the tag.
"That was a nice play," Mattingly said of Stanton, who made several highlight reel defensive plays in the first two games of the series. "The ball came back to him, he played it good off the wall."
Marlins:Adam Conley will try to bounce back from a rough outing in Arizona when he let up seven runs without getting out of the second inning. Conley has lasted less than five innings in three of his last four starts, going 1-1 with a 9.56 ERA during the stretch. He is 1-0 with a 5.91 ERA in two career starts against the Rockies.
Rockies: The Rockies finish their series against the Marlins at 1:10 p.m. MT on Wednesday, as Jon Gray gets the nod. Gray has a 2.17 ERA in five starts this month.
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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**.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver who covered the Marlins on Tuesday.