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Rockies rally late, sit alone atop NL West

Story homers twice off Bumgarner, but Cuevas' pinch-hit wins it in 8th
September 3, 2018

DENVER -- The Rockies were in heart-attack mode Monday, knocking Giants ace Madison Bumgarner out of the game with seven runs in five innings -- with five runs coming on a pair of Trevor Story homers -- only to lose the lead in the eighth on a pair of two-out,

DENVER -- The Rockies were in heart-attack mode Monday, knocking Giants ace Madison Bumgarner out of the game with seven runs in five innings -- with five runs coming on a pair of Trevor Story homers -- only to lose the lead in the eighth on a pair of two-out, pinch-hit homers from the Giants. But the Rockies countered in the bottom of the inning, with pinch-hitter Noel Cuevas hitting a two-run single past a drawn-in infield for his first hit since starting his September callup.
The 9-8 win, coupled with the Dodgers' loss to the Mets, moved the Rockies into first place all by themselves in the National League West.
"It was a good win," manager Bud Black said. "Somebody's going to win this game, and we prevailed. We got it done when we needed to."

The Rockies led 7-5 going into the eighth, and gave the ball to reliever Seunghwan Oh, who was 1-0 with a 1.72 ERA in 17 games coming into Monday since the Rockies picked him up in a July 26 trade. After retiring the first two batters, Oh hit Gorkys Hernandez with a pitch, then yielded back-to-back homers to pinch-hitters Alen Hanson and Chris Shaw, who hit his first career homer to take the lead, a no-doubter to the second deck in right, traveling 468 feet and marking the second-longest Giants homer since Statcast™ started tracking homers.
The Rockies wasted no time bouncing back in the bottom of the inning, with Ian Desmond lining a single to left and pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta knocking a double off the right field fence to put runners on second and third.

"Sometimes you can eliminate pitches," Iannetta said of his pinch-hit approach. "You can read the situation and understand what they're going to do. It doesn't always happen that way, but it does at times. With a reliever, they're going to go with their best stuff, and his best pitch is his changeup. When you're facing the back end of a bullpen, it's all about them making mistakes as opposed to you capitalizing on a pitch."
That brought the rookie Cuevas to the plate in his first big league at-bat since being optioned to Triple-A on June 29. Cuevas took a big cut and missed the first pitch he saw from reliever Tony Watson, then poked a two-run single to center through a drawn-in infield to give the Rockies the lead and, ultimately, the win. The hit made Cuevas 8-for-25 (.320) as a pinch-hitter this season.

"You don't start in the game, so you always look for that moment that you get an opportunity," Cuevas said. "The opportunity came pretty big for me. It means a lot for me that Bud gave me the opportunity in that situation, and even better that I was able to come through.
"I took my normal aggressive swing [at the first pitch]. When I swung and missed, I thought I better choke up a little bit. I did that, I stayed in the middle, and I was able to get a pitch and get it back to the middle."

It would have been a rough loss after the way the Rockies treated Bumgarner, a nemesis for the Rockies who had posted a 1.38 ERA against them this season entering Monday's start and boasted the third best all-time career mark against the Rockies with a 2.93 ERA, trailing only Randy Johnson (2.47) and Johnny Cueto (2.67 ERA). His 3.93 ERA in 14 starts at Coors Field is also third best for a pitcher with 10 starts or more who never played for the Rockies, trailing Ian Kennedy (3.16) and Tom Glavine (3.68).

Rockies starter Tyler Anderson rebounded from his last start (six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning) to pitch 5 1/3 innings of three-run ball, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out seven. He gave up a solo shot to Gorkys Hernandez to lead off the third and an additional run in both the fourth and sixth innings.
With relievers Scott Oberg and Adam Ottavino unavailable, the Rockies patched together a bullpen hold from newly recalled Yency Almonte (two-thirds of an inning, zero runs), Chris Rusin (two-thirds of an inning, two runs), Chad Bettis (one-third of an inning, zero runs), Oh (one inning, three runs), and Wade Davis, who struck out the side in the ninth and earned his National League-best 38th save.

Double dingers: Getting the early lead was a rare feat for the Rockies, and they made it count. Story hit a two-run shot to center from the cleanup spot in the first inning, following DJ LeMahieu's two-run homer two batters earlier to mark the first time in franchise history that the first four Rockies hitters scored on a pair of two-run homers. Story's homer went a projected 422 feet, according to Statcast™.
The Rockies scored more runs in the first inning than they've scored against Bumgarner in all 13 innings of his two previous starts against Colorado this season combined. The frame was even more remarkable given Bumgarner's 0.94 ERA in the first-through-third innings this season (five earned runs in 48 innings).

After flying to left in the third, Story came up with two men on and blasted his second long ball of the day 393 feet to left, per Statcast™. He plated Charlie Blackmon, who was hit by a pitch, and Nolan Arenado, who reached base on an error by second baseman Kelby Tomlinson.
"I really liked Trevor's second homer, a three-run homer in the middle part of the game," Black said. "He fell behind 0-2, and then Bumgarner, as he can do, tantalized Trev with some pitches down below the zone, hoping for the chase, and he didn't get it. Full count, Trevor threw a great swing on a breaking ball that looked to be a little bit up in the strike zone."
The homers gave Story a career-high 28 for the season and marked his fourth multihomer game this year and the ninth of his career.
Blackmon's steal of second in the seventh inning gave him 126 career steals, tying him for second in Rockies history with Larry Walker. Eric Young is the all-time leader with 180 steals.
"How much better can it get? It's almost like a walk-off, had it happened in the ninth inning. To be able to contribute to the team win in such a way, I got no words for it. Nothing feels better than that." -- Cuevas, on his two-run single in the eighth, giving the Rockies their 16th last at-bat win of the season
German Marquez toes the rubber in the middle game of the three-game set with the Giants, facing Dereck Rodriguez in a battle of right-handers at 6:40 p.m. MT Tuesday. Marquez had outstanding feel for his slider in his last start, striking out a career-high 13 Padres in eight innings to compile his seventh straight quality start.

Owen Perkins is a contributor to based in Denver.