DENVER (AP)—Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) was feeling down before pinch-hitter Jason Giambi’s(notes) clutch homer in the ninth inning had him jumping around the clubhouse, his bad outing forgotten and his aches and pains suddenly soothed.
Giambi’s two-run homer off Jonathan Papelbon(notes) capped a three-run rally in the ninth inning and the Colorado Rockies overcame a shaky game from their ailing ace to beat the Boston Red Sox 8-6 on Wednesday night.
“They picked me up,” Jimenez said. “It’s not about me, it’s about the team. … We got the win, everything is forgotten about, when you win like that. I don’t even think about my stats.”
Seeking to become the first NL pitcher in nearly a century to win 14 of his first 15 starts, Jimenez was staked to an early four-run lead, which seemed safe considering he hadn’t allowed more than three runs in a start all season.
But he gave up six runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3 innings against Boston in the worst game of his otherwise spectacular season.
“He’s human. He’s not a machine,” manager Jim Tracy said. “And he’s allowed to have a game like this.”
Jimenez had been sent home sick the night before and labored through his outing, but didn’t want to blame it on his health.
“I just had a bad game,” Jimenez shrugged.
Giambi, who has struggled in his new role as an occasional ninth-inning pinch hitter, sent a 1-0 off-speed pitch into the right-field seats to give Colorado its second straight thrilling win over the Red Sox, who celebrated their 2007 World Series title on this field.
“Pap in the ninth with the lead? We figured that should be enough,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Papelbon tried to elevate and it got away and … Wow!”
Giambi’s shot was just second homer by a lefty batter off the All-Star closer all year and it came after Ian Stewart(notes) tied it at 6 with a leadoff drive against Papelbon (2-4), who blew his second save in 18 chances.
Stewart’s homer was his eighth of the season but his first at Coors Field.
“The home run that Ian hit, actually I believe is a month’s worth of frustration taken out on one swing, the way he hit that ball,” Tracy said. “The at-bat by the Giambino, what can you say?”
The Rockies have been offensively challenged all season and the only reason they’re not buried in the standings is Jimenez. But this win went to Manny Corpas (2-4), who threw a scoreless ninth.
Until Stewart’s shot, Boston right-hander John Lackey(notes) was in line for the victory after allowing five runs and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings. He helped himself out with two hits off Jimenez after entering the game just 1 for 31 at the plate in his major league career.
Despite hitting 100 mph with his fastball, Jimenez struggled and didn’t even make it out of the sixth in his bid to set a franchise record with wins in eight straight starts. It was his shortest outing of the season and his ERA jumped from 1.15 to 1.60.
“Early he looked unhittable,” Francona said. “I know he’s sick, but the stuff he was throwing early was as good as you’re ever going to see.”
Jimenez, who had a stretch of 10 starts from April 17 to June 6 when he gave up a total of six runs, was tagged for two in the second and four more in the sixth as the Red Sox rallied to take a 6-5 lead.
Daniel Nava(notes) hit a two-run double in the fourth and sparked the sixth-inning outburst with an RBI double off Jimenez. Darnell McDonald(notes) hit a tying two-run homer with two out, and Lackey doubled and scored on Marco Scutaro’s(notes) single to give Boston the lead.
That chased Jimenez, who was trying to become the first National League pitcher since Rube Marquard to win at least 14 of his first 15 starts. Marquard won his first 18 starts for the New York Giants in 1912.
Miguel Olivo(notes) hit a two-run drive off Lackey in the second inning for his 10th homer and Colorado added two more in the third. Brad Hawpe(notes) drove in a run with a groundout and Seth Smith’s(notes) sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
Although players on both teams knew Jimenez wasn’t feeling well, Tracy bristled when asked how that affected his ace.
“I don’t even want to go there,” Tracy said. “You know something, I looked up on that board, for the majority of the time that he was out there through six innings, I saw pitches over 100 mph. I saw 97 mph.”
And Jimenez still threw well enough to give the Rockies a chance, Tracy insisted.
“We were trailing 6-5 and in a great position to win the game. We needed to help him out a little bit and help ourselves out a little bit,” Tracy said. “He didn’t execute a couple of pitches in some critical situations … When you do that against a club the caliber of this one that we’re playing, you’re going to pay for that. It’s as simple as that. It’s not the flu.”
NOTES: Huston Street(notes) replaced Jimenez in his first appearance of the season after spending 2 1/2 months on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation and a strained left groin. The closer allowed one hit in 1 1-3 scoreless innings.