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Blackmon, Story key Rockies' five-run ninth

@harding_at_mlb
April 27, 2019

ATLANTA -- Charlie Blackmon checked the late-game comeback off the Rockies’ to-do list Saturday night. Blackmon’s two-out, two-run double off Braves closer A.J. Minter in the top of the ninth keyed the Rockies’ 10th victory in their last 12 games, 9-5, at SunTrust Park. After enduring an early eight-game losing

ATLANTA -- Charlie Blackmon checked the late-game comeback off the Rockies’ to-do list Saturday night.

Blackmon’s two-out, two-run double off Braves closer A.J. Minter in the top of the ninth keyed the Rockies’ 10th victory in their last 12 games, 9-5, at SunTrust Park. After enduring an early eight-game losing streak, the Rockies have rebounded to a game below .500, with Saturday’s win providing a different kind of lift.

“It hasn’t happened a whole lot yet, and I think what that will do is let us know that we can do it going forward,” said Blackmon, whose first-pitch double was followed by Trevor Story’s three-run homer. “Just because we’re down a run or two doesn’t mean that we’re going to lose the game.”

The Rockies’ current run includes a 12-inning win at home against the Phillies, with Blackmon’s two-run walk-off homer coming with the team down. In most games, the Rockies built and protected the lead. But Saturday, the Rockies trailed most of the way after Jon Gray's rough 4 2/3 innings (eight hits, three walks and five runs that included solo homers from Freddie Freeman and Ender Inciarte).

“You’re going to have maybe a handful during the course of the year,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “You want more of these than being on the other end, for sure. That’s going to happen, too. But they’re always good when you get them. This was a really, really good one.”

Nolan Arenado homered to open the second, and Daniel Murphy delivered his first Rockies homer with one out in the fourth. Arenado set a club record by homering in five straight road games. Story improved his Majors-best hit streak to 15 games, and Blackmon’s go-ahead double pushed his streak to 10 games.

Here were some elements of a comeback formula that the Rockies hope to bottle and use when the game directs:

Relievers stopping the bleeding: Gray left with a 5-2 deficit and a runner at third with two outs in the fifth, after posting a 0.69 ERA while winning his previous two starts.

“F’s all across the board; that was horrible,” Gray said. “Awesome game, but let’s not do that again.”

Lefty Mike Dunn forced a weak Brian McCann popup and finished the inning, then handled favorable matchups in a quiet sixth.

“That’s what we’re going for, give our offense as much opportunity as possible and, hopefully, steal a little bit of momentum,” Dunn said.

Righty Bryan Shaw, who entered with a .188 batting average against but seven walks to five strikeouts and plenty of bad counts, was spotless over two innings, with a strikeout using a curveball he developed over the offseason.

“I’ve thrown it a few times here and there, but they’ve put it on the scoreboard most of the time as a slider,” said Shaw, who has a 1.13 ERA in an early bounce-back after struggling to a 5.93 ERA last year.

Late contributions from the lower order: Against Braves righty Mike Foltynewicz, Black stacked the lower lineup with lower-service-time lefty hitters David Dahl, Ryan McMahon, Raimel Tapia and Tony Wolters.

Dahl tripled to open the a two-run seventh. That inning also included McMahon’s RBI single, Tapia’s double to chase Foltynewicz, and Wolters’ RBI groundout against Luke Jackson. Dahl’s double off Minter began the ninth.

“Guys have been good outside of the usual suspects,” Blackmon said.

Patient at-bats: Arenado doubled in the fourth but was left at third, and Tapia was left at third in the seventh with a one-run deficit. The ninth looked headed that way after Dahl doubled but Minter struck out McMahon and, after wild-pitching Dahl to third, Tapia.

But pinch-hitters Ian Desmond and Drew Butera took walks -- Butera’s on four pitches -- before Blackmon flipped the game by pulling Minter’s first-pitch, 95.4 mph fastball.

“He came right at me, to his credit,” Blackmon said. “He was real aggressive with his first pitch, and I was able to get it out of the infield.”

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