Rockies 4, Marlins 3

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MIAMI (AP)—Frustration and strikeouts mounted for the Colorado Rockies’ lineup, until Matt Holliday came up with the big hit that for two nights had been so elusive.

Holliday doubled home the tying run in the eighth inning and scored on Garrett Atkins’ sacrifice fly, helping Colorado beat the Florida Marlins 4-3 Thursday.

A night after the Rockies struck out 16 times and stranded 14 runners in a loss to Florida, they again struggled at the plate—until the eighth.

Colorado trailed 3-2 when Kaz Matsui led off the inning with a bunt single against Armando Benitez (2-7). Holliday followed with an opposite-field drive to the wall.

“It’s a big hit for the team,” Holliday said.

“He hit a hanging slider,” Benitez said. “Hey, what can I do? He got me.”

Holliday took third on the throw home and scored easily on Atkins’ fly.

“I was thinking the same thing the whole time—try and hit the ball in the air,” Atkins said. “I ended up hitting it pretty good.”

Four Colorado relievers shut out Florida over the final 3 2-3 innings. LaTroy Hawkins (2-5) pitched the seventh, and Jorge Julio—a washout as the Marlins’ closer before being traded May 13—pitched a scoreless eighth.

Manny Corpas pitched around a walk in the ninth for his eighth save in as many chances since Brian Fuentes went on the disabled list.

“We pitched good tonight, and we found a way to score one more run than them,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “That’s the sign of a good ballclub.”

The Rockies won despite striking out 12 times, hiking their two-game total to 28. The Marlins struck out 12 times and stranded nine runners.

“We had some opportunities to add on,” Florida manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We just didn’t do it.”

Holliday and Garrett had two RBIs each. Dan Uggla drove in two runs with his 22nd home run for Florida, and Josh Willingham hit his 16th.

Colorado starter Jason Hirsh, activated from the disabled list before the game, tied a career high with eight strikeouts but allowed three runs in 5 1-3 innings. Hirsh, who struck out NL batting leader Miguel Cabrera three times, had been sidelined since July 2 with a sprained right ankle.

“It was a challenge for Jason, coming back after being gone awhile,” Hurdle said. “That was good step forward for him.”

Marlins starter Rick VandenHurk left with a 3-2 lead after throwing 100 pitches in 4 1-3 innings. VandenHurk needed 41 pitches to get through the first inning—one night after teammate Byung-Hyun Kim threw 37 in the first.

“Obviously you want to go as long as you can,” VandenHurk said. “But I threw a lot of pitches in the first inning, so I couldn’t go far in the game. They kept fouling it off.”

VandenHurk is filling the rotation spot vacated by Josh Johnson, who will undergo elbow surgery Friday that’s expected to sideline him through the 2008 season.

Florida used five relievers, including Renyel Pinto, who threw only five pitches before leaving the game with a shoulder strain.

VandenHurk threw 36 pitches before the Rockies put a ball in play. He struck out the first two batters, walked the next two and gave up an RBI single to Atkins.

Colorado’s lead didn’t last long. Hanley Ramirez walked to start the Marlins’ first, and Uggla hit a drive that bounced off the top of the scoreboard for a homer.

The Rockies made it 2-all in the third when Matsui singled, stole second and came home on Holliday’s single.

Willingham homered in the third to put Florida ahead 3-2.

Notes

Marlins 1B Mike Jacobs, mired in an 0-for-11 slump, was held out of the starting lineup. … The game was the first for VandenHurk since a change in the spelling of his name. He had been previously referred to as Vanden Hurk, a mistake dating to when he was a 16-year-old minor-league pitcher, and he recently spoke up about the error. … Announced attendance was 11,927, but the actual turnout for each of the three games in the series was 3,000 or less.

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