DENVER (AP)—The ballpark. The bullpen. The Braves.
Nothing about the way Monday night’s game at Coors Field was shaping up made it feel like the Colorado Rockies could hold onto the 7-6 lead they grabbed in the fourth inning.
Starter Jamey Wright and three Colorado relievers wrote an unusual—and successful—ending to this story, though. They shut out Atlanta for the final five innings to make that precarious 7-6 lead stand up and help the Rockies win consecutive games for only the third time this year.
“I can’t remember getting too many wins when I’ve come out of the game with a one-run lead in the sixth,” Wright said. “That usually doesn’t happen.”
It did this time, thanks to the two-hit ball thrown by Jose Acevedo, Brian Fuentes and Chin-Hui Tsao over the final 3 2-3 innings. Tsao needed just nine pitches—seven strikes—to work a perfect ninth and get his third save in as many tries.
The two setup men didn’t get in much trouble, either, and Colorado, which improved to 8-21 this season, remained with only seven blown saves.
“I’m sure there were doubters in the stands that didn’t think we would hold a lead,” Fuentes said.
In the dugout, too.
“I don’t think there was anybody in the ballpark that thought it would finish 7-6 after the fourth,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “I didn’t.”
Todd Helton hit two run-scoring doubles to continue his climb out of an early season slump. He is 13-for-38 with seven RBIs over the last 10 games.
Brad Hawpe had a two-run single in the fourth off Tim Hudson (3-2) to give Colorado its 7-6 lead. By that time, the game was nearly 2 hours old and most everyone was hunkering down for a long evening.
But Wright (2-2) pitched a scoreless fifth and got the first out of the sixth. Then, the bullpen took over. Asked if it was the relievers’ best performance of the season, Hurdle replied simply, “You can look it up. Yes.”
“It’s really odd,” Braves manager Bobby Cox said. “We got shut out for five innings. That doesn’t happen often here.”
By stopping Atlanta’s five-game winning streak, the worst team in the major leagues strung together wins for only the third time this season—these two coming after a 10-game losing streak, the third longest in franchise history.
Wright allowed 10 hits, four walks and six runs over 5 1-3 innings to get his first win at Coors Field this season. He lowered his home ERA to 12.64 in three starts.
Aaron Miles had four hits and an RBI and scored three runs for Colorado.
Adam LaRoche had three hits and three RBIs, including a home run that reached the third deck in right field, an estimated 464 feet.
That homer made it 4-3 and the next batter, Andruw Jones, hit a hard shot off the wall in right-center. Second base umpire Tim McClelland ruled it a home run, but the ball hit well below the yellow stripe and the other members of the crew overruled McClelland and awarded Jones a double.
Two batters later, with runners on first and third, Johnny Estrada hit a potential double play ball to Miles, but he booted it, allowing Jones to score and tie the game at 4.
Hudson lasted only 3 2-3 innings, his shortest outing this season. He didn’t get hit particularly hard, but still allowed 10 hits, seven runs and three walks in his first outing at Coors Field.
“I was just not making real good pitches tonight,” he said. “I have to make better pitches and I could get the ball hit on the ground instead of all the bloop hits that they got. That is what kills you around here, is the bloop hits.”
LaRoche’s homer was the 25th hit into the top level at Coors Field since the stadium opened in 1995. … The Rockies will scratch Joe Kennedy from his scheduled start Wednesday and put Byung-Hyum Kim in his place. It will be Kim’s first start since May 10, 2004, when he was with Boston. Kennedy hurt his foot trying to stop a ground ball in his last start.