DENVER (AP)—Jamey Carroll has struggled this year to find the groove he had in 2006.
At least for one swing, he captured it again Saturday night.
Carroll hit a pinch-hit grand slam to break open a tie game in the sixth and Brad Hawpe and Troy Tulowitzki each drove in three runs to lead the Colorado Rockies past the Chicago Cubs 15-2 Saturday night.
“I feel like I’ve been hitting the ball well lately and having good at-bats,” said Carroll, who has raised his average 53 points to .232 in his last 23 games. “I don’t look at is as anything that’s going to springboard me. I was just fortunate to get a big hit.”
Carroll hit a career-high .300 last season as the Rockies regular second baseman. This year, he started slow in his utility role, but he has come on, hitting .319 since his average fell to .179.
“He had his finest season,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said. “It’s only human nature you want to back it up with another one. So, you put a little more pressure on yourself.”
Carroll, who’s only other home run this season also came against the Cubs, hit Rich Hill’s 1-2 pitch just over the left field wall for his ninth career homer, first grand slam and the sixth grand slam of the season for Colorado, a team record. Carroll finished with a career-high five RBIs.
“All of a sudden, we just took off from there,” Carroll said. “You’re definitely satisfied with that.”
The Cubs fell 1 1/2 games behind Milwaukee in the NL Central, and the Rockies moved to within two games of San Diego in the NL wild-card race.
Carroll’s home run came after the Rockies loaded the bases on singles by Ryan Spilborghs and Yorvit Torrealba and a hit by pitch. Rookie Ian Stewart, making his first Major League start, was hit in the head by Hill. Stewart stayed in to run, but was replaced in the field the next inning. He said he was fine after the game.
Kaz Matsui singled to chase Hill (6-7) and after a stolen base Tulowitzki singled off of reliever Michael Wuertz for another run.
“The grand slam, that’s just something that you deal with and move on,” Hill said.
Hill gave up seven earned runs in 5 2-3 innings, tying his career high in runs allowed.
“It was a good game for about five innings, then it got away,” Cubs manager Lou Pinella said. “Colorado can swing the bats. Tonight, for the last third of the ballgame, they did.”
The Rockies scored four more runs in the seventh on Hawpe’s two-run homer— his 21st of the season—and Tulowitzki’s two-run single. Tulowitzki went 4-for-5. Matsui was 3-for-6 and Torrealba scored three runs.
Colorado had a second four-run inning in the eighth, highlighted by Hawpe’s RBI triple.
“He didn’t let the game get away from him and he didn’t get frustrated,” Hurdle said about Fogg.
Spilborghs’ two-out single to right field tied the score in the first, and Matsui’s RBI double in the second inning scored Torrealba from first base to give the Rockies the lead. The Cubs tied it in the fourth on Hill’s two-out RBI single.
The first 13 runs of the game were scored with two outs. … Garrett Atkins, the Rockies everyday 3B, made his first start of the year at first base in place of Todd Helton, who is out with back spasms. … The Cubs are 38-25 since June 3, the only NL Central team with a winning record in that span. … The last Colorado pinch-hit grand slam was by Mark Sweeney against San Francisco on Sept. 7, 2004, at Coors Field. … Following the game, the Rockies optioned RHP Ryan Speier to Triple-A Colorado Springs and recalled RHP Tim Harikkala, who will start Sunday against the Cubs.