Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2
“Runs are usually at a premium against him, and my focus up to that point was to stay aggressive,” Estes said. “I felt like I was sharp right out of the gate tonight. I knew I could pitch deep into the game if I continued to stay aggressive.”
The matchup between Johnson and Estes was pushed back to Wednesday after Tuesday’s game was washed out by rain. The game will be made up after Thursday’s day game in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
Estes (15-7) didn’t seem to be bothered by waiting an extra day.
Arizona didn’t get a runner to second base until Chris Snyder led off the fifth with a single and moved over on Chad Tracy’s groundout. Estes ended that threat by striking out Robby Hammock and getting Jerry Gil on a weak grounder.
Estes ran into more trouble in the eighth inning when pinch-hitter Andy Green led off with a single and Luis Terrero followed with another single when third baseman Vinny Castilla had to duck out of the way of his broken bat on an easy grounder.
Brian Fuentes, who replaced Estes, allowed a run on Bautista’s groundout before getting the final out.
Estes allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings to set the team record for wins by a left-hander. Mike Hampton had 14 in 2001.
Estes has given up 210 hits and 98 walks in 191 innings and has an ERA of 5.70.
“He battled. Every day he goes out there, he goes out there and pitches to win,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “When you look at all the numbers— the ERA, the hits given up, the walks, that kind of stuff—then you kind of go ‘wow.’ But 15 wins, most in franchise history for a left-handed pitcher, that stands up for itself.”
It wasn’t easy.
The Diamondbacks loaded the bases against Rockies closer Shawn Chacon with one out in the ninth inning, but the right-hander got pinch-hitter Alan Zinter to fly out to shallow left and struck out Terrero for his 35th save in 44 chances.
“That’s not the way you draw it up when you go into the boardroom, but he was able to get the outs when we needed them,” Hurdle said.
Johnson (14-14) had another in what has been a season full of tough-luck losses.
The Big Unit didn’t seem to have his best stuff, giving up eight hits in seven innings, but still lowered his ERA to 2.69 by allowing just one earned run. It was the seventh time this season Johnson has lost after giving up two earned runs or less.
“I wasn’t as sharp as I had been because I had an extra couple of days rest,” said Johnson, who matched a career high for losses. “But for the most part I thought I pitched pretty well. I battled through almost every inning with guys on base.”
Johnson’s troubles started in the third inning.
He gave up a single to Estes to start the inning, then walked Aaron Miles. First baseman Shea Hillenbrand was able to field Royce Clayton’s sacrifice cleanly at first and tried to get the lead runner at third, but his throw sailed into left field to let two runs score.
Colorado got another run off Johnson in the sixth inning on another mistake.
Burnitz and Alex Gonzalez started off with singles, then Cintron made a nice backhanded stop up the middle to get a forceout at second. Tracy then got the ball stuck in his glove on Choo Freeman’s grounder to third, allowing Burnitz to score and put the Rockies up 3-1.
Johnson was lifted in the eighth inning after giving up three runs.
“Randy was fine. I thought he threw the ball well,” Arizona manager Al Pedrique said. “He moved the fastball around the plate with good command. The slider was working and he threw a few splitters. He kept us in the game and offensively we fell short.”
Burnitz hit a solo homer off Brian Bruney in the eighth inning, moving within one of his career high set in 1998 with Milwaukee.
Clayton has 19 sacrifice bunts this season, matching Neifi Perez’s team record set in 1998. … Estes has 15 wins for the third time in his career. He was 15-6 in 2000 and 19-5 in 1997. … Johnson also had 14 losses (12-14) in 1992 with Seattle.