Sanchez provides clutch hits in 4-2 win

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DENVER (AP)—For the third straight day, the Colorado Rockies had an eighth inning lead. For the third straight day, their bullpen couldn’t hold it.

LaTroy Hawkins gave up a pinch-hit home run to Josh Phelps to tie the game in the eighth, and Brian Fuentes allowed a game-winning single in the 11th by Freddy Sanchez as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the struggling Rockies 4-2 on Monday night.

It was another frustrating appearance for Fuentes, who went on the DL in early July after blowing saves in four consecutive outings. No longer the closer, Fuentes struggled with command, facing five batters and walking one, hitting another and allowing a single.

“Command was the issue plain and simple for Brian Fuentes,” Colorado manager Clint Hurdle said.

Fuentes was gone before the clubhouse doors opened and wasn’t available for comment.

The Rockies opened a crucial seven-game homestand against the Pirates and Washington Nationals, two of the worst teams in the National League, and lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Cesar Izturis drew a leadoff walk off Brian Fuentes (0-5). Nate McLouth bunted him to second and after Fuentes hit Matt Kata on an 0-2 pitch, Sanchez blooped an RBI single to short center field.

“Freddy had a great at-bat in the 11th, something he’s done a few times in the past four or five days,” Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy said.

Said Sanchez: “Fuentes has some good stuff. I just wanted to put the ball in play and find a hole and the ball found a hole.”

The Pirates added an insurance run when third baseman Garrett Atkins threw wildly on Adam LaRoche’s two-out grounder, allowing Kata to score.

Damaso Marte (2-0) walked two, but retired pinch hitter Jamey Carroll in the 10th for the win. Matt Capps pitched a perfect 11th for his 12th save in 14 opportunities.

LaRoche went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles. Josh Phelps hit a pinch-hit home run for Pittsburgh.

Troy Tulowitzki tied his career high with four hits, including his 16th home run. Brad Hawpe hit an RBI single as the Rockies lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Tulowitzki defended himself for being thrown out trying to steal second base after singling to open the 10th. Matt Holliday struck out to start the double play.

“I went on my own,” Tulowitzki said. “I figured it was the right play because Matt normally puts the ball in play.”

Kata tripled into the right-field corner and scored on Sanchez’s ground out in the first inning as the Pirates took a 1-0 lead.

Colorado starter Ubaldo Jimenez allowed a two-out double to Adam LaRoche in the first and then settled down, allowing only three hits after the first inning. He allowed a run in seven innings, and struck out four without allowing a walk.

Tulowitzki hit a 445-foot home run to center with two outs in the seventh to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

Pittsburgh starter Matt Morris was just as stingy, giving up two runs, but only one earned with seven hits in seven innings.

Colorado tied the game at 1-1 in the fourth when Jose Bautista dropped Todd Helton’s fly ball in right for a two-base error. One out later Brad Hawpe scored Helton with a bloop single to left.

The Rockies left a runner on third base when Garrett Atkins drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a ground out and to third on a wild pitch. But Morris fanned Ryan Spilborghs and Yorvit Torrealba to end the inning.

Jimenez worked out of a minor jam in the Pittsburgh seventh inning. LaRoche led off the inning with his second double of the game, but Jimenez retired Jason Bay, Bautista and Ronny Paulino.

“These losses hurt,” Tulowitzki said. “This loss really hurts.”

Notes

: The Pirates are 7-7 in extra inning games. … Kata, a career .400 hitter at Coors Field, started for the Pirates in place of Xavier Nady. … Phelps had two home runs while with the New York Yankees. … 1B Todd Helton turned 34 and OF Cory Sullivan turned 28. … RHP Jason Hirsh (broken right ankle) is nearly ready to begin throwing on the side.

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