PHOENIX -- Carlos Gonzalez's late-arriving magic has shown up just in time. Gonzalez launched two no-doubt, two-run homers to right field as the Rockies won their sixth straight, 4-2, over the D-backs on Tuesday night, tightening the National League Wild Card race.
Through struggles that saw him hitting .239 through August, Gonzalez would smile and talk about saving the best for last. September, which includes Tuesday's 2-for-4, has seen him hit .451 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 10 games -- and now that CarGo has picked a good time to be CarGo -- he can let loose some truth.
"I was trying to lie to myself on that one," said Gonzalez, who went deep against starter Taijuan Walker in the third inning and against David Hernandez in the seventh to improve his homer total to 12. "I was hoping that I could help this team in the last run.
"That dream is coming true, so let's keep it going."
The Rockies are in the lead for the second Wild Card spot, and by winning the first two of this four-game series have narrowed the D-backs' edge for the first spot -- which means hosting the Wild Card Game -- to three games.
"We knew the Rockies were coming here playing well, and we're fighting for the same turf," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "And there's nothing better, as far as I'm concerned, than this type of baseball in this month. This is what we work hard for. This is what we prepared all season, all spring for, and I know our guys are going to lay it down and be ready for tomorrow."
The Rockies, who got 10 strikeouts in seven innings from righty starter Jon Gray, are 3 1/2 games up on the Cardinals and four up on the Brewers, both of whom are also trying to overtake the Cubs in the NL Central.
J.D. Martinez led off the second against Gray with his 38th homer this season, and 22nd since joining the D-backs in a trade from the Tigers. According to Statcast™, Martinez's homer traveled an estimated 447 feet, and its 113.7-mph exit velocity made it the hardest-hit homer by the D-backs this season, eclipsing his 112.8-mph shot on Sunday.
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However, Gray gave up just one other run and fanned six of the final 12 batters he faced. It was his second double-digit-strikeout game of the season. The other was against the D-backs at Chase Field, when he fanned 10 on June 30.
"It was so much better when I knew where my stuff was going to go, and what it was going to do," Gray said. "It was really cool to use literally everything on both sides of the plate tonight."
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Lefty Chris Rusin, described by manager Bud Black as the team's "Swiss Army knife," pitched the final two outs for his second save of the season and his career. Rusin, who has a 2.31 ERA pitching in multiple roles, closed and Scott Oberg pitched 1 1/3 setup innings because regular closer Greg Holland and setup men Jake McGee, Mike Dunn and Pat Neshek were being rested.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Double trouble: The D-backs had a promising start to the third inning when Walker and David Peralta led off the frame with back-to-back singles. Chris Iannetta was then hit by a pitch to fill the bases and Jake Lamb delivered a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2. That brought Paul Goldschmidt to the plate, but Gray was able to get him to line to short and Trevor Story tossed to second baseman DJ LeMahieu to double Peralta off second and end the threat. It was just one example of the D-backs' struggles to deliver with runners in scoring position.
"I think that's the one that stood out more than any other," Lovullo said of the missed opportunity in the third. We've got our two best run producers back to back and Paul hits the ball well enough on the line to the shortstop and I just think we made a little bit of a mistake baserunning and it cost us. It didn't allow J.D. to get up to the plate. We got one, but the expectation was to get more than one and I think that was a big boost for them and you can see what happened after that. Gray caught a little bit of a tailwind and threw the ball very, very well."
Parra flashing leather: Rockies left fielder Gerardo Parra won a pair of Gold Gloves while playing for the D-backs, and he showed he still had some of that magic. With a runner at third and two outs in the first, Parra jumped at the wall in left to snag a Goldschmidt drive, and in the fifth he tracked down a Walker fly ball as he crashed into the bullpen wall in left.
"All along, we've thought our best team is Carlos Gonzalez being Carlos Gonzalez, hitting in the middle of the lineup with Nolan [Arenado] -- 3-4, whatever that combination is -- and whatever guys we put around those two." -- Black
Rockies: Rookie righty German Marquez (10-6, 4.27 ERA) has pitched solidly in five starts against the D-backs, going 0-2 with a 3.94 ERA. He'll try again in the third game of the series, Wednesday at 7:40 p.m. MDT.
D-backs:Patrick Corbin (13-12, 4.16 ERA) looks to bounce back from a rough start when he takes the mound at 6:40 MST Wednesday night against the Rockies. Corbin allowed eight runs over 4 1/3 innings against the Padres on Friday, but he was 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in his five starts prior to that.
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