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Another pinch-hit HR lifts Rox to 7th straight win

Murphy hits tiebreaking homer in eighth to continue Rockies' surge
July 21, 2018

PHOENIX -- It's not every day that a homegrown Rockies bench player wins a game with a homer. It just seems that way.Saturday night it was Tom Murphy knocking his first home run in nearly two years -- a solo shot off D-backs righty Yoshihisa Hirano with two out in

PHOENIX -- It's not every day that a homegrown Rockies bench player wins a game with a homer. It just seems that way.
Saturday night it was Tom Murphy knocking his first home run in nearly two years -- a solo shot off D-backs righty Yoshihisa Hirano with two out in the eighth to give the Rockies their seventh straight victory, 6-5, at Chase Field.
Murphy had not homered since Sept. 21, 2016, but his shot off Hirano vaulted the Rockies over the D-backs and into second place in the National League West, one game behind the Dodgers. After struggling against the D-backs for much of the first half, the Rockies have won the last four meetings.
"There's a long way to go and there are some great teams in the National League that we've got to track down," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "But like I've said all year, I think we can play with anybody."
Murphy homered three times in 35 at-bats in his 2015 debut, but went 1-for-24 in the Majors last year. Now, hitting .291 since being recalled June 12 from Triple-A Albuquerque, Murphy is back on the homer ledger and seemingly in play as a weapon for a contending team.
"It's a great feeling, especially in a tight ballgame like that where I can help the team win," Murphy said.

On Friday night, Raimel Tapia parked a seventh-inning grand slam off Archie Bradley to key the Rockies' 11-10 victory. Murphy and Tapia are similar in that they are homegrown players who have had fits and starts in the Majors since 2016, but have seen the club go with more established players at their positions.
"He was swinging the bat great in Triple-A -- look at what he did statistically," Black said of Murphy. "At the time, Tony [Wolters] and Chris [Iannetta] were having a little bit of a tough time offensively, so we brought 'Murph' to get into the mix.

"'Murph's got power. He gives you a good at-bat, with a thought process about what he wants to do against that pitcher."
Murphy and Tapia are called upon to provide depth so the club might not need to pursue seasoned players off the bench at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. There is a chance the club could seek experienced catching and use Murphy as a bench bat.
Murphy made his plea for playing time by crushing the first pitch he saw from Hirano (2-2) -- an 83.2 mph split-finger. Murphy had gone 93 at-bats without going deep.
"I have a ton of confidence in myself and my ability," Murphy said. "It's just time. That's all it is."

Both starting pitchers rolled early but ran into trouble.
Rockies lefty Kyle Freeland allowed one baserunner in the first three innings, but hit Ketel Marte and walked Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock to open the D-backs' three-run fourth. Freeland left the mound looking over his shoulder at plate umpire Paul Nauert. In the fifth, he walked Marte and gave up two hits, including Steven Souza Jr.'s second RBI single of the night.
"I was frustrated for a moment, but I knew I had to let it go," said Freeland, who had a 1.93 ERA over his previous six starts. "From there, I wasn't executing pitches the way I was in the first three innings, and it snowballed on me."
The Rockies' first hit off D-backs righty Zack Godley was Ian Desmond's fifth-inning leadoff triple. Garrett Hampson followed with a double for his first Major League hit and the Rockies' first run of the game. Charlie Blackmon doubled home Hampson to trim the Rockies' deficit to one run.

Carlos Gonzalez reached base to lead off the sixth on Godley's throwing error and eventually scored one of the Rockies' two runs in the inning.
Gonzalez hit an RBI double off Hirano in the seventh, but the D-backs tied it in the bottom of the seventh thanks to Nick Ahmed's RBI single off Scott Oberg (6-0). With runners at the corners and two outs, Chris Owings lined a comebacker that knocked off Oberg's glove. But Oberg chased down the ball and made the throw to first in time.

Adam Ottavino pitched a clean eighth. Wade Davis, a day after missing a game with a stomach ailment, overcame Marte's leadoff single in the ninth to secure his 28th save.
The seven-game win streak has come against the D-backs and Mariners -- two teams in the heat of their respective division races. This is the Rockies' first win streak of six or more games accomplished entirely against teams with winning records in club history.
Righty Antonio Senzatela (3-2, 5.34 ERA) will face D-backs righty Zack Greinke (10-5, 3.18) as the Rockies pursue a sweep of the three-game set on Sunday at 2:10 p.m. MT. Greinke has been sharp this season, but has had some trouble with Rockies hitters. Trevor Story has a 1.195 OPS with five home runs against Greinke in 29 at-bats, and Carlos Gonzalez has a 1.081 OPS with five homers, a double and a triple in 48 at-bats.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.