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Murphy's HR leads charge in Rox series sweep

MLB.com

DENVER -- Before Sunday's finale against the Athletics, Rockies manager Bud Black praised Tom Murphy for the progress he's made both at the plate and behind it.

The catcher's work in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Athletics showed why Black spoke so highly of the 27-year-old, who is still fighting for playing time in his fourth season in the big leagues.

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DENVER -- Before Sunday's finale against the Athletics, Rockies manager Bud Black praised Tom Murphy for the progress he's made both at the plate and behind it.

The catcher's work in Sunday's 3-2 win over the Athletics showed why Black spoke so highly of the 27-year-old, who is still fighting for playing time in his fourth season in the big leagues.

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In the bottom of the second inning, Murphy crushed a two-run home run -- his second of the season -- to give Colorado a 2-0 lead. It helped propel the Rockies to an Interleague series sweep at Coors Field and a season-high 10 games over .500.

Video: OAK@COL: Black talks Murphy's homer, Marquez's start

"Runner on second with less than two outs, I was trying to get that runner over," Murphy said. "That was my only goal: See something out over the plate, and in the very worst case get him over to third base."

Not only has Murphy found his swing lately -- he tripled in yesterday's game to set up a run for the Rockies in the second inning -- he's also been steady behind the plate. Black said that's what he was most happy to see from Murphy on Sunday.

"Murphy is capable of one big swing," Black said, "but what I liked most was how he worked with [starter German] Marquez, with [Scott] Oberg and with Wade [Davis]."

When he joined the Rockies from Triple-A on June 12, Murphy applied the confidence and comfort level he'd picked up while with Albuquerque, and has split playing time with Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters.

"It's really been a career progression for me," Murphy said. "I feel like every year I've gotten a little bit better, a little more confident, and now it's really kind of transferring at this level, where I'm taking over, I feel prepared and like I should be out there."

Black has long said Colorado needs 25 players on the roster to contribute. The Rockies have won four consecutive games and 19 of their past 24, and the players bouncing from the Minor Leagues to the big leagues have done little things to help Colorado on its hot streak.

Ryan McMahon went to Triple-A in the middle of June to work on his swing, so when the Rockies brought him back to Denver on Sunday, he hoped to find more consistent at-bats and a way to help the club win.

That's what he did, knocking two doubles -- one to lead off a two-run inning and another to bring in a run.

Video: OAK@COL: McMahon smacks an RBI double to right field

"We had a big group of us at Spring Training, and we were told that all of us would contribute at some time," McMahon said. "All good, winning teams have contributions from all guys. We're just seeing it that way -- get your shot, go up, help out and when you get sent down again, don't get upset, just get working again and wait for the next opportunity."

As the National League West race continues to heat up, the Rockies' recent run is all the more important. With the Dodgers' loss to the Braves on Sunday, Colorado is just one game out of first place.

Marquez had another solid outing, throwing 100 pitches in 7 2/3 innings. He held Oakland to two runs on five hits with a home run from Matt Chapman, who finished the series 5-for-12, and solo shot from Khris Davis in the seventh.

Video: OAK@COL: Marquez fans 8 in strong start vs. the A's

Marquez (9-8) walked just one to earn his fourth consecutive win, which ties a career high. Scott Oberg struck out Chapman for the last out in the eighth, and closer Wade Davis worked a perfect ninth for his 30th save.

"It starts with the mindset that a lot of our starters have had of late, meaning the last six weeks," Black said. "The thought process is strike one. If I don't get strike one, I'm throwing strike two -- the overall aggressiveness of getting the ball in the strike zone early."

Video: OAK@COL: Davis strikes out Olson to earn 30th save

With a fastball command that was working well, Marquez mixed his pitches well to strike out eight hitters on one of the best offenses in baseball. The Rockies held the A's to four runs -- and two home runs -- over the series.

"You don't expect us to score four runs in a three-game series here, so you do have to give them credit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You look at some of the ERAs, but you look at who these guys are, you watch them on video, and all these guys are really good. They ran out some good arms against us every day and shut us down, and they're a hot-hitting team."

SOUND SMART
Rockies starters have posted a 1.71 ERA at home in the month of July, a franchise record for the lowest starter ERA in a single month at Coors Field. The previous low, excluding the month of October, was May 2006, when they combined for a 2.80 ERA.

HE SAID IT
"There's a comfort level now to coming back and forth. They're over the awe of coming to the big leagues. They're over the awe of, 'Hey, I made it.' Our conversations now are, 'Hey, do something to help us win.' And they're doing it. It's great. I think they're relishing the opportunity to contribute." -- Black, on young players making contributions when needed

UP NEXT
Lefty Tyler Anderson (6-3, 3.57 ERA) will make his first road start since June 29 when he faces the Cardinals and righty Carlos Martinez (6-6, 3.39) on Monday at Busch Stadium at 6:10 p.m. MT. It marks the first career start at Busch for Anderson, who is 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA in 10 road starts.

Anne Rogers is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver.

Colorado Rockies, Tom Murphy