PHOENIX -- In the battle of the two top teams in the National League West, it was the Rockies who came out on top, as they beat the D-backs, 3-1, on Friday night to leapfrog into first place.The Rockies were led by rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland, who allowed one run
PHOENIX -- In the battle of the two top teams in the National League West, it was the Rockies who came out on top, as they beat the D-backs, 3-1, on Friday night to leapfrog into first place.
The Rockies were led by rookie left-hander Kyle Freeland, who allowed one run over six innings to win his second straight start and improve his record to 3-1. D-backs starter Robbie Ray (2-1) took the loss.
"When he needed to make pitches, he strung some together and really put the ball where he needed to put it, put the ball on the ground and make soft contact," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "It was great."
Freeland, who did a nice job of pitching out of jams, was supported by an RBI single from Carlos Gonzalez, a solo homer by Trevor Story and a run-scoring single by Charlie Blackmon.
"We had guys on base, but [Freeland] made pitches and we weren't able to kind of get that big hit to break through," said D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who knocked in his team's only run with a single in the third. "Robbie did a good job tonight; it's tough to have to give him the loss after pitching so good, and our bullpen did good, too, but they just did a little bit better."
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Freeland's performance, supported by three solid innings from the bullpen, came after the Rockies had lost three of four to a hot-hitting Nationals team at home.
"Every pitcher on the staff wants to be that guy and strives to be that guy whenever we go into a little skid like that," Freeland said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Getting in and out of trouble: Freeland found himself in a jam with one out in the fifth and runners at second and third. The Rockies were clinging to a 2-1 lead, and the hot-hitting Goldschmidt was at the plate. Freeland managed to jam Goldschmidt with a high fastball, and he popped out, and Freeland then got Yasmany Tomas to ground out to end the threat.
"It could have been a big turning point for them, where they could have tied it up or taken the lead," Freeland said. "I threw a sinker to [Tomas]. It started diving, and it was a little more on the plate than I wanted, but he was able to hit it into the ground."
Home away from home: Story loves to hit at Chase Field. Last year, in 28 at-bats here, he homered five times. After striking out in his first at-bat, Story crushed a Ray pitch to center. The exit velocity was 103 mph, according to Statcast™, with a launch angle of 29 degrees and an estimated distance of 428 feet.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Colorado entered the game 22nd in the Majors in bullpen ERA, at 4.77. But some relief innings matter more than others, and the Rockies are quite good when it matters. Three scoreless innings from Chris Rusin, Adam Ottavino and Greg Holland (who is now 10-for-10 on save chances) drove the team's ERA with the score tied or when protecting a lead to 1.42 in 44 1/3 innings.
STREAKING WHEN IT COUNTS
Blackmon hit the ball solidly in two of his first three at-bats, and he extended his hit streak to 13 games when it counted. His single past diving third baseman Daniel Descalso with two down in the seventh chased Ray and gave the Rockies a two-run lead. Blackmon has 18 RBIs during his streak.
"We've seen that from Charlie -- his ability to use the whole field, take what the pitcher is giving him, and he hit a bullet past Descalso," Black said. "Huge run."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Blackmon, who entered the game hot with the bat, made a sliding catch on a David Peralta line drive to center in the second inning. Replay overturned the original ruling, that Blackmon had trapped the ball. How good was his catch? According to Statcast™, it was a 5-Star play, as he covered 52 feet in 3.4 seconds and made a catch that had an 18 percent probability.
Rockies: Lefty Tyler Anderson (1-3, 7.11 ERA), who has fallen into a pattern of undoing generally solid pitching with brief but rough stretches that ruin his outings, hopes to find consistency against the D-backs at Chase Field on Saturday at 6:10 p.m. MT.
D-backs: The D-backs continue their three-game series with the Rockies on Saturday with a 5:10 p.m. MST contest at Chase Field. Zack Greinke will get the start. He's coming off an outing in which he allowed one run over six innings against the Padres.
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Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and** like his Facebook page**.