HOUSTON -- Not only was it German Marquez's first career start against the Astros, but the Rockies right-hander had never faced anyone on Houston's active roster. The Astros had not won a game at Minute Maid Park since July 14, so if there was an ideal time and place to face Houston's potent lineup, Marquez had the favorable situation Tuesday.
Nolan Arenado helped him out, too.
Batting as Colorado's seventh different designated hitter in seven Interleague games at American League ballparks, Arenado hit a go-ahead two-run home run against Justin Verlander to power a 5-1 win. Arenado's 30th homer of the season was the Rockies' largest offensive moment behind Marquez's superb outing.
The Rockies remained one game behind the first-place D-backs in the National League West as Arizona notched a 6-4 win over Texas.
At first, Arenado said he didn't know where the home-run ball landed, or if it even left the ballpark. He said the murmuring displeasure of the Minute Maid Park crowd let him know it was one of his rare opposite-field homers. Regardless, batting as the designated hitter was surely different.
"Yeah, I didn't like it at all," said Arenado, who made his first career start at DH. "A little nerve-wracking. Yeah, just kind of nervous just watching the game -- you know, not really playing a part of it except hitting. You just get scared. You get nervous for the guys. You just want to win, you know. You just get antsy. I don't know, I feel like I want to do something else. … It was awful. I didn't like it."
Given a defensive day of rest while a sore right shoulder is healing, Arenado's sixth-inning homer prevented Verlander from earning his 200th career win, gave the Astros their ninth consecutive home loss and marked the third baseman's fourth consecutive season with 30 or more home runs.
"His reaction was interesting," Verlander said. "I don't even think he knew where he hit it. He maybe thought it was a foul ball, kind of an excuse-me swing. That's kind of the way things are going right now. I felt like I executed the pitch I wanted. He was able to get the barrel to it, and it just found a way to leave the yard."
The Rockies supported Marquez with three insurance runs over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings -- an RBI double from No. 9 hitter Tony Wolters, an eighth-inning home run from Trevor Story and an RBI single by Charlie Blackmon in the ninth -- to help the starter notch his 10th win of the season, one shy of tying his career high set in 2017.
Marquez didn't allow a hit until the fifth, when he encountered minor trouble after allowing a leadoff triple to Yuli Gurriel and an RBI single to Josh Reddick. That was the only run Marquez allowed as he gave up three hits over seven innings and struck out seven.
"I try to do my best regardless of who I face, but yeah, there is a little extra whenever you're facing the reigning [World Series] champions and one of the best pitchers in the game," Marquez said. "So that little extra was there for me."
It was Bud Black's 800th career win as a Major League manager, split between nine seasons with the Padres and two with the Rockies.
Arenado (four) joins Todd Helton (six), Vinny Castilla (six), Larry Walker (four) and Andres Galarraga (four) as the only Rockies players to reach 30 home runs in four or more seasons. Arenado (four) also joins Helton (six), Castilla (five) and Galarraga (four) as the only Colorado players to hit 30 or more home runs four consecutive years.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Arenado's home run was hit with an exit velocity of 95 mph and a 26-degree launch angle. Similar batted balls resulted in home runs 7 percent of the time, according to Statcast™.
HE SAID IT
"It's a round number, right? Those of us who put on a uniform ultimately know the biggest games are those games that are later in the year and into October." -- Black, on if he will take a moment to reflect on his 800 career managerial wins
The Rockies' two-game series against the Astros concludes on Wednesday at 6:10 p.m. MT at Minute Maid Park. Tyler Anderson (6-4, 3.94 ERA) gets the start for Colorado as the left-hander seeks his first win since July 4. Anderson tossed 7 1/3 strong innings against Houston on July 24, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits in a no-decision. Gerrit Cole (10-5, 2.75) is slated to start for the Astros.