DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon extended his hit streak to nine games and hit a go-ahead homer to cap a comeback, and the Rockies powered past the Nationals, 8-4, in the opener of a four-game series on Monday at Coors Field featuring the teams with the National League's best records.Blackmon's deep
DENVER -- Charlie Blackmon extended his hit streak to nine games and hit a go-ahead homer to cap a comeback, and the Rockies powered past the Nationals, 8-4, in the opener of a four-game series on Monday at Coors Field featuring the teams with the National League's best records.
Blackmon's deep fly was his sixth this year, and fourth during his streak, which began on April 14. The Rockies, who have won eight of their last 10, piled on another three runs in the eighth to relieve starting pitcher Tyler Anderson from another outing that began strong but ended abruptly.
The left-hander commanded his off-speed well early, but he gave up four runs in the sixth, when the Nationals collectively hit for the cycle in the span of five at-bats, capped with a two-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman, his seventh, which tied him for the team lead with Bryce Harper, who rested on Monday.
"He had us eating out of his hand earlier in the game, throwing a lot of changeups and some cutters inside to keep you honest, but basically, it was his changeup that had us fishing," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "We finally made him get some balls up in the zone after chasing him down. Those are tough balls to hit, and if you do, you're going to top them, like we did, a couple toppers to him."
Anderson has now given up four or more runs in each of his five starts. He gave up that many or more in just five of his 19 starts last year as a rookie. He registered five strikeouts in the first three innings, including four on his changeup.
"I thought the first five [innings] went really well," Anderson said. "And even in the sixth inning, there were some good pitches, but I made a few mistakes, and some of them got hit. That's what happens, I think, when you face a hot team."
• Wolters making presence known with his bat
Nationals right-hander Jacob Turner, called up on Monday from Triple-A Syracuse to take Stephen Strasburg's spot while Strasburg is on the paternity list, threw six strong innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts and no walks in his 2017 debut.
"I was just trying to stay aggressive, especially here," Turner said. "Can't put extra guys on base if you don't have to. I was just trying to stay as aggressive as I could in the zone."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blackmon streaking, with power: Blackmon extended his hit streak to nine games in the seventh with a towering two-run homer that traveled 417 feet and pushed the Rockies from behind one to ahead one, 5-4, ending Enny Romero's night after four batters. Blackmon is batting .314 with four homers and 11 RBIs during his hit streak.
"Where he missed is kind of where I hit balls far," Blackmon said of the low-and-in slider Romero threw that resulted in the homer. "I wasn't necessarily trying to swing really hard. It was just a product of good contact."
Nats hit for cycle in sixth: Trailing, 1-0, with one out in the sixth, and having reached base just three times to that point, the Nats strung together a collective cycle over their next five at-bats. Trea Turner doubled, Adam Eaton tripled, Anthony Rendon singled, Daniel Murphy flied out and then Zimmerman homered, continuing his rejuvenation of sorts.
"You give a lineup -- especially a good lineup like we have here -- a number of times to see a guy, and you're only going to get better for it," Eaton said. "We made some good adjustments and were able to put some good at-bats together to give us the lead there."
Through 19 games, Zimmerman is batting .379 with 12 extra-base hits and 18 RBIs, compared with a .219 clip with just four hits for extras through 19 games last year.
"Colorado's a funny place. It's weird, because in the outfield you play so deep, and sometimes you can give up the balls in front. Then, as soon as you start moving in, they hit it over your head. So it's kind of a real tricky place for an outfielder to play. They did both tonight. They dumped it in front of us and hit it over our head." -- Eaton, on the Rockies' offensive attack
"Right when he hit it, I think the dugout collectively just said a huge 'Yeah.' I mean, just a huge one. Man, that was great. Great swing, squared it up." -- Rockies manager Bud Black, on Blackmon's homer
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Monday's game was the first at Coors Field between two above-.500 teams with sole possession of first place this late in the season since April 24, 2013, when the Rockies (14-7) walked off against the Braves (15-6), 6-5, in 12 innings. That year the Braves went on to win the National League East, while the Rockies finished in last place in the NL West.
Mark Reynolds' two-run homer in the sixth left his bat at 91.6 mph, making it his softest-hit homer of the Statcast™ era. Entering play Monday, only two homers in 2017 had been hit with a lower exit velocity.
The Rockies tied a season high with 15 hits that had an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher, the threshold for what Statcast™ classifies as a hard-hit ball.
Nationals: Right-hander Joe Ross faces the Rockies for the first time in his career in the second game of the four-game set on Tuesday. Ross has had success facing the National League West, going 3-2 with a 3.89 ERA over seven career starts. He threw seven innings of three-run ball on six hits and a walk in his season debut on Wednesday against the Mets.
Rockies: Colorado's No. 4 prospect, German Marquez, will make his 2017 debut, taking Jon Gray's rotation spot as he recovers from a stress fracture in his left foot. Marquez debuted last September and made his first Opening Day roster this year in the bullpen, but he didn't appear in a game and was optioned to Triple-A to stretch out his innings within the first week of the season.
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Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com based in Denver and covered the Nationals on Friday.