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Rockies win to wrap up strong homestand

The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Colorado Rockies wrapped up a successful homestand Wednesday, one that was much needed against their chief National League West foes. They beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-1 in the rubber game of their series.

The victory gave the Rockies five wins in seven games on the homestand against the San Francisco Giants and the Diamondbacks. The three teams are tied for the lead in the National League West with records of 26-21.

Prior to the homestand, the Rockies had lost seven of their previous nine games and had dropped four straight series. They entered this homestand in third place, two games behind

"That was the whole plan for us, winning series against the teams that were ahead of us," said Carlos Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 with a homer and a triple and had two RBI.

"Now we're back on track. It's a good feeling and creates a lot of motivation for us."

Jorge De La Rosa threw 103 pitches, the most by a Rockies starter this season, in 5 1/3 innings and allowed six hits and one run before three relievers worked the final 3 2/3 innings -- 1 2/3 by Edgmer Escalona, one by Matt Belisle and one by Rex Brothers.

With closer Rafael Betancourt sidelined with tightness in his right groin, Brothers earned his second career save, the other coming Aug. 23, 2011, here against the Houston Astros. Brothers made his 19th consecutive scoreless appearance and lowered his ERA to 0.42.

"I created the atmosphere in my head to make it seem the same," Brothers said of the ninth inning.

If that wasn't enough before his nine-pitch inning, he had help from catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who met him at the mound.

"He comes out," Brothers said, "and says, 'Pretend like it's the eighth. I'm tired. Hurry up.'"

The Rockies staked De La Rosa to an early four-run lead, scoring twice in both the first and third innings against Trevor Cahill.

Gonzalez hit for the cycle here on July 31, 2010. On May 14 at Chicago, he was a triple shy of the cycle by the fifth inning. He didn't get it but finished 5-for-5.

After hitting his 11th home run in his first at-bat, Gonzalez tripled in his second, the third-inning hit scoring DJ LeMahieu, who had reached base on an infield single. Gonzalez scored on Cahill's wild pitch to give the Rockies a 4-0 lead.

Gonzalez admitted he had visions of hitting for the cycle after getting the homer and triple out of the way so soon.

"That's the hard part when you hit the homer and the triple," he said. "It looks like it's going to be a lot more easier. But it's not. This game's hard enough. But the whole point is we won the game."

After Gonzalez homered with two outs in the first, Dexter Fowler and Nolan Arenado followed with doubles to put the Rockies ahead 2-0.

De La Rosa gave up a run with two outs in the fourth when Wil Nieves doubled on a nine-pitch at-bat. The hit scored Cody Ross, who had singled and moved to second on a ground out.

"The thing about him is his command," Ross said of De La Rosa. "When he's got it, he's almost unhittable. The way he throws pitches in hitter's counts, that's one reason why he is effective. When it's 3-1, 2-1, he throws a changeup. When he is up 0-2, he throws a heater. He pitches backwards and competes and doesn't give in."

De La Rosa allowed consecutive singles in the fifth to AJ Pollock and Didi Gregorius, but avoided trouble by throwing a sinker that Paul Goldschmidt grounded into a double play.

"They make me work a lot the whole game," De La Rosa said. "They make me pitch. I think when I have to throw good pitches, I did. I did that with Goldschmidt."

The Rockies have won seven of 10 games started by De La Rosa, who is 6-3 with a 3.40 ERA. It will be two years on Friday that De La Rosa tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left elbow in a start here against Arizona. His recovery from Tommy John surgery on June 3, 2011, was lengthy, but based on his performance this year, the injury is finally behind him.

"I think I can get a little more strength in my arm," De La Rosa said. "I can't complain. My velocity's very good. All my breaking stuff is working very good. And I'm glad to feel the way I feel right now."

The Diamondbacks fell to 5-5 against the Rockies this season and 2-4 at Coors Field. Arizona finished a 3-3 road trip that began in Miami and scored 10 runs in the three games here.

"It seemed like a longer road trip than it was," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. "I felt we didn't have as much energy as we've had in the past. It's going to happen. Time for an off day. Time for us to freshen up."

NOTES: Betancourt, who left Tuesday night's game with right groin tightness, received an anti-inflammatory shot and hopes to be ready to pitch Friday. Betancourt has inflammation around scar tissue from a 2009 injury. ... Rockies SS Troy Tulowitzki was given a planned day off, which, because Colorado doesn't play Thursday, will give him two days off. He had started 13 straight games. ... With Tulowitzki and C Wilin Rosario resting and Michael Cuddyer on the disabled list, manager Walt Weiss had Fowler, who typically bats first or second, batting cleanup. It was his first career start hitting fourth. The only other time Fowler hit fourth was as a pinch hitter this season on April 10 at San Francisco when he grounded out in the eighth inning in a 10-0 loss. ... The umpires used video replay to uphold a call by first base umpire Doug Eddings that a ball Fowler hit down the right-field line in the sixth was foul. ... Rockies LHP Jeff Francis (left groin strain) felt fine after a 25-pitch bullpen session Tuesday. He will travel with the team to San Francisco, where he will long-toss Friday and throw another bullpen session Saturday. ... Gibson said OF Adam Eaton (strained left elbow), who has been on the disabled list since the start of the season, was scheduled to see team physician Michael Leeon Wednesday in Phoenix. He has been on a rehab assignment with Class AAA Reno and experienced discomfort in the elbow making his first throw during a game Monday in Round Rock, Texas. ... Cahill had allowed three homers in 58 innings before yielding a homer to Gonzalez in the first inning.
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