Colorado Rockies manager Clint Hurdle hoped to inject some life into his offense with a few lineup changes. His moves couldn’t have worked out any better.
The Rockies hope to move closer to the NL wild card Wednesday night when they continue a four-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field.
With his team having lost two straight and four of five, Hurdle decided to rest second baseman Kaz Matsui and third baseman Garrett Atkins on Tuesday. Jamey Carroll took over for Matsui while rookie Ian Stewart made his second career start at third.
Stewart responded with a third-inning grand slam in his ninth career at-bat, and Matt Holliday added three hits, including a home run, as the Rockies coasted to a 9-2 victory.
“I knew I hit it well, but I didn’t know I hit it that well,” Stewart said. “I was hoping it would go over his head, or worst-case scenario he catches it and we get a run home.”
“We needed this,” Stewart said. “We’ve had a couple of tough games the past couple of days, and this is big. If we can put together a streak, win four or five in a row, we might be close to the top of the wild card.”
The 22-year-old Stewart, called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Aug. 11, is the third rookie this year to hit a grand slam for his first major league homer. Houston’s Hunter Pence did it May 5 at St. Louis, and Danny Richar of the Chicago White Sox did it Friday at Toronto.
Colorado is in a stretch where it plays 10 straight games against teams out of playoff contention. After two more contests with the last-place Pirates (53-71), the Rockies have three home games against Washington before opening a three-game series at San Francisco.
The Pirates had a season-high four-game road win streak snapped.
Freddy Sanchez went 0-for-4 Tuesday, ending his 16-game hitting streak against the Rockies. He is batting .389 (28-for-72) lifetime versus Colorado.
Colorado’s Josh Fogg (7-8, 4.82 ERA) faces his former team for the third time in his career. Fogg, who pitched for Pittsburgh from 2002-05, faced the Pirates at PNC Park on July 17 and limited them to two runs and five hits over seven innings in a 6-2 victory.
The right-hander failed in a bid to win his third straight start, giving up six runs and eight hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. He had allowed three runs or fewer in each of his five previous starts.
Tom Gorzelanny (11-7, 3.48) hopes to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season. The Pittsburgh ace was reached for five runs and nine hits over five innings Friday in an 11-8 loss to Philadelphia. Gorzelanny, who entered Friday with a streak of 14 1-3 scoreless innings, surrendered more than four runs for only the second time in 10 starts.
The left-hander has pitched very well on the road, going 7-3 with a 3.50 ERA in 13 starts. This, however, will be his first appearance at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
Gorzelanny struggled in his only appearance against the Rockies, yielding seven runs - five earned - and four hits with five walks over 2 2-3 innings in a 13-4 loss on July 18, 2006.