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HRs push Rox to 7th straight W, cusp of berth

Dahl goes deep in fourth consecutive game to shrink magic number to 2
September 27, 2018

DENVER -- The week of David Dahl could be ushering in a new age for the Rockies.Dahl homered for the fourth straight game and added an RBI triple as the Rockies beat the Phillies, 5-3, to complete a four-game sweep at Coors Field, push their win streak to seven games

DENVER -- The week of David Dahl could be ushering in a new age for the Rockies.
Dahl homered for the fourth straight game and added an RBI triple as the Rockies beat the Phillies, 5-3, to complete a four-game sweep at Coors Field, push their win streak to seven games -- and extend their lead atop the National League West to a full game over the Dodgers.
The Rockies can clinch a postseason berth as early as Friday. If the Cardinals lose to the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon, and the Rockies beat the Nationals on Friday night -- with the sizzling Kyle Freeland starting -- Colorado is in.

"I just show up, trying to get ready, do my routine," said Dahl, who began the season in Triple-A and missed time at midseason with a fractured right foot but is hitting .319 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs this month. "Showing up at the ballpark, trying to help the team win is all I'm really doing right now."

If big hits and home runs are part of the routine, the Rockies will take it. Dahl homered in each game of the series and riddled the Phillies for 11 RBIs, Trevor Story went deep in his second straight game to take the team lead with 35 (one more than Nolan Arenado) and Gerardo Parra added a pinch-hit shot to open the seventh for his first homer in 172 at-bats.
Add to all that a solid bullpen effort -- two runs over 4 1/3 innings -- and the Rockies are smelling a chance not only to make consecutive postseason trips for the first time in their 26-season history, but win their first division crown. And the streak, which has seen the Rox outscore their opponents, 52-10, came after suffering a three game sweep -- at Dodger Stadium, of all places -- to temporarily fall out of first place.

"This time of year, there's a really heightened focus," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "Our guys, our baseball aptitude, our baseball IQ shows every day. That's a big part of our success."
With two outs in the first, Dahl sent Jacob Arrieta's 0-1 fastball over the center-field wall for his 13th homer in his 73 games. Dahl also hit a two-run homer in Monday's 10-1 victory over the Phils, followed by three-run shots in Tuesday's 10-3 victory and Wednesday's 14-0 triumph. In the second, Story's homer and a wild pitch by Arrieta (10-11) after Carlos Gonzalez doubled and moved on Andrew Knapp's passed ball, made it 3-0.

Dahl's homer streak matched the club's longest of the season, as Arenado went deep in four straight from June 19-22. But his more important hit, however, came in the seventh. After Parra homered off reliever Tommy Hunter and Charlie Blackmon doubled, Dahl pulled a one-out triple into the right-field corner for a 5-1 lead.
"I think the ball might've hit me in the chest if I'd took it, but I was fortunate to find some barrel and get the runner in," Dahl said.

The two-run inning proved important. Reliever Adam Ottavino, the Rockies' primary setup man, hit Rhys Hoskins, gave up a two-run Carlos Santana homer and walked Dylan Cozens. Then, the control showed up, and Ottavino fanned Scott Kingery, Knapp and Pedro Florimon.
It was a heavy bullpen day. Starter Antonio Senzatela lacked fastball command and bowed out after 95 pitches in 4 2/3 innings. Relying on secondary pitches, Senzatela held the Phillies to one run -- Jose Bautista's third-inning homer.

"I see that as growth, maturity-wise," Senzatela said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating. "Good pitchers find a way to keep you in games, whether or not you have your command."
Scott Oberg (8-1) fanned Santana to end the fifth with two on, and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. Seunghwan Oh fanned two and gave up a hit in the seventh. After the eventful Ottavino inning, Wade Davis gave up a leadoff Cesar Hernandez single before retiring three straight -- two via strikeout -- to earn his club-record 42nd save. Davis entered Thursday tied with Jose Jimenez (2002) and Greg Holland ('17).

Senzatela fanned the first two batters in the fifth and nearly escaped with enough innings for a win, but Roman Quinn walked and Hoskins tapped a single past third base against a shifted defense. Black turned to Oberg, who has been a difference-maker since returning from an option to Triple-A Albuquerque in late April.
Oberg fell behind Santana, 2-0, stepped off the mound -- "re-gathered myself," he said -- and worked back into the count with two fastballs. Then he enticed Santana to chase a slider in the dirt.
The three blowout victories over the Phillies allowed Black to use Oberg and Oh just once, and give Ottavino and Davis three days of rest. But Oberg figured a tight game was coming.
"The offense has been great the last few days, but we know it's unrealistic to put up 10 runs every single night," Oberg said. "Today was a grind."

On Sept. 26, 1995, the the 3-year-old Rockies used Larry Walker's two home runs and three RBIs to win at Dodger Stadium, 7-3, and take first by a half-game. But the Dodgers won the next day, 7-4, and never relinquished first place.
Thursday's victory put the Rockies in first place the latest in a season in terms of date, total games played and games remaining. Back in 1995, the Rox were in first with four games left in a season shortened to 144 games because of a labor strike that wiped out the end of the previous season and the postseason.
"There really wasn't a thought that we were in trouble. It was obviously not the best showing. It's not like we were pumped about losing three games. But we knew there was still ball left to play. We're a very tough team. I've said that a lot this year. Getting swept was real tough. How we responded was huge, and we're still doing it." -- Story, on how the Rockies rebounded from being swept by the Dodgers from Sept. 17-19

The Rockies begin the final regular-season set with the Nationals with one of this season's most accomplished pitchers, Freeland (16-7, 2.84 ERA), against Nats righty Joe Ross (0-1, 4.09). Not only is it a good time to turn to Freeland, but Denver -- his hometown -- is a perfect place. He is 9-2 and the Rockies are 12-2 in his 14 starts at Coors Field, where Friday's game starts at 6:10 p.m. MT.

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