DENVER (AP)—The Pittsburgh Pirates couldn’t find any holes in the first game.
That certainly changed in the second.
Oliver Perez pitched his second complete game of the year and Pittsburgh had a season-high 21 hits Thursday night, sending the Pirates to an 11-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies and a doubleheader split.
“We hit the ball hard in the first game without results,” said Jack Wilson, who was 4-for-6 in Game 2. “In the second game, they all fell.”
Pittsburgh had its most hits since getting 21 against Colorado on Aug. 4, 1998, eclipsing the previous season high of 19 set two nights earlier against the Rockies. The Pirates finished the series with 17 extra-base hits and 31 runs.
“They just put a thumping on us for three days,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said.
Kris Benson was knocked around for six runs in 6 1-3 innings in Colorado’s 7-5 victory in the first game, but Perez (3-1) didn’t let it affect him.
The left-hander established his hard slider early and kept the Rockies off balance with a low-90s fastball, striking out seven and walking one in the first nine-inning complete game at Coors Field this season.
Perez allowed seven hits and no runners past first base after the fifth inning.
“Getting a complete game here is never easy,” said Perez, whose first career complete game was a six-hitter in a 6-0 victory over Cincinnati on April 25. “I kept my composure on the mound and my slider was as good as I’ve had.”
Colorado got a superb game from Shawn Estes in the opener of the first traditional doubleheader at Coors Field—there have been 15 day-night twinbills in which fans had to buy separate tickets for each game. But the Rockies couldn’t keep it going in the nightcap.
Jason Jennings put Colorado in a 3-0 hole right away and the bullpen gave up four runs in the sixth and again in the eighth. The Rockies lost their third home series of the season—something that didn’t happen until Aug. 10 last year.
“They were pretty impressive and we contributed to it in a large fashion,” Hurdle said.
Jennings (2-5) was coming off his best start of the season—three runs in six innings Saturday against the Cubs—but it didn’t carry over against the Pirates.
He gave up four hits in the first inning, including Mackowiak’s run-scoring double off the base of the wall and Ward’s solo homer to right—his first since Sept. 25, 2002, for Houston.
Jennings didn’t allow another run, but worked through trouble in every inning—10 hits, three walks—before being pulled for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.
“A lot of the hits were groundballs, so it was what I want,” said Jennings, who has lost three straight starts at home for the first time in his career. “I made one bad pitch the whole game that really cost me and the rest I really wasn’t too disappointed with.”
Estes (5-2) allowed a career-worst nine runs in 2 2-3 innings Friday against the Cubs, but had much better command this time.
He was tight early because of a short warmup—a hit batter and a walk led to a run in the second inning—but kept spotting his big-breaking curveball to keep the Pirates on their heels.
Estes allowed two runs and three hits. Five of his six strikeouts came looking at his curveball, including Craig Wilson twice.
“I didn’t have any giddy-up on anything, but I was hitting my spots and finally started feeling good about the third or fourth inning,” said Estes, who threw six innings for a rain-shortened complete game at Coors Field against Los Angeles on April 22.
Shawn Chacon got his ninth save with a perfect ninth.
Benson (3-3) drove in two runs but continued to struggle since opening the season 2-0. He allowed nine hits, losing for the third time in four starts.
Benson has given up five or more runs in three of four outings after allowing four total in his first three starts.
“It’s the obvious thing that if you get the ball up in the air here they are going to carry out,” Benson said. “They took advantage of some balls upin the zone and they put them beyond the fences.”
Pirates RF J.J. Davis is day-to-day after spraining his right pinkie in the second inning of the first game. He was hit on the hand during a pickoff attempt at second base. … Clayton’s homer in Game 1 was his 100th. … Perez’s complete game was the 49th in Coors Field history and first in nine innings since Colorado’s Aaron Cook dud it against San Diego on April 18,2003.