Rays' Cobb yields 3 homers, but still wins

Jack Etkin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER - Alex Cobb of the Tampa Bay Rays had never pitched in a National League ballpark. His first opportunity to do so came Sunday in the hitters' paradise that is Coors Field against a powerful Colorado Rockies lineup.
Cobb allowed three home runs but all came with the bases empty as he worked 6 2/3 innings and shrugged off the effects of altitude to help the Rays beat the Rockies 8-3 in the rubber game of the series.
"I'm always angry when I give up a home run," said Cobb, who yielded them to Michael Cuddyer, Troy Tulowitzki and Nolan Arenado, the last coming on Cobb's final pitch. "We train ourselves that it happens, get over it and focus on the next batter. That was my approach. Two were leadoff home runs, and I was able to clear it and move on to the next guy. When home runs are hit, you don't let it become a big inning."
Opening Day starter Jhoulys Chacin rejoined the Colorado rotation and pitched a season-high seven innings. Chacin (3-1) had not pitched since April 19 due to a back strain that caused him to go on the disabled list and miss two starts. He fought his way through a 23-pitch first inning when the Rays parlayed three singles, a walk and a wild pitch into three runs.
"Maybe I was trying to throw a perfect pitch (rather) than go right at them," said Chacin, referring to the first inning. "I get behind in the count and you get bad counts and then you walk guys. Just a couple things, I didn't make that good pitch to get out of the inning and get a long inning."
Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario committed two passed balls, the first contributing to one unearned run in the three-run sixth that gave the Rays a 6-2 lead and the other aiding a two-run eighth that produced the final score.
Chacin walked Matt Joyce to open the sixth. With one out, James Loney, who went 3-for-4 and scored three runs, hit a hard liner off the glove of second baseman Josh Rutledge for a hit on a ball that could have been caught.
"It was a knuckleball," said Rutledge. "It was coming down, but it ended up staying up."
Kelly Johnson followed with a broken-bat single to short right-center, scoring Joyce to put the Rays ahead 4-2. And after Rosario's first passed ball put runners on second and third with one out, Ryan Roberts doubled to left past a drawn-in infield.
In the eighth, Colorado reliever Josh Outman allowed a leadoff walk and a single before Rosario had a high pitch glance off his glove, moving the runners into scoring position. Both came home on Jose Lobaton's single.
Asked whether his team had played a sloppy game, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said, "It certainly wasn't real clean. Yeah, it wasn't real pretty. The game kind of got away from us a little bit later."
Cuddyer belted his seventh homer in the second, giving him at least one hit, one RBI and one run in five straight games. Tulowitzki led off the fourth with his seventh homer, trimming the Rays' lead to 3-2.
Arenado connected in the seventh, ending Cobb's workday at 107 pitches, 71 of them strikes. It was the third homer for Arenado in his seven major league games. He hit his first grand slam Saturday night.
The Rockies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, just as they did while losing to the Rays in 10 innings Friday night when they hit two homers.
"Other than the middle game of the series (which the Rockies won and went 4-for-12 with runners in scoring position), we struggled with runners in scoring position," Weiss said. "We hit some homers, but if you don't get any hits with runners in scoring position, it's tough."
The win enabled the Rays to finish a three-city road trip with a 4-5 record and improve overall to 14-16. They begin a 10-game, 11-day homestand Monday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, who will be followed to Tropicana Field by the San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox.
"We're playing right on that cusp," Rays manager Joe Maddon said, "that verge of getting over the top and playing like we're capable of playing. You got to be pleased with the effort. Sometimes a wounded dog is more dangerous."
NOTES: The Rockies activated Chacin and first baseman Todd Helton (left forearm strain) from the 15-day disabled list. To make room for them, Colorado optioned first baseman/third baseman Ryan Wheeler and right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood to Triple-A Colorado Springs. Helton went 1-for-4 but struck out in the eighth against Joel Peralta after the first two batters Peralta faced singled. ... The Rays played without Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar. Zobrist left the team Sunday following the death Friday night of his grandmother. Maddon said Zobrist is expected to rejoin the team Tuesday. Zobrist was not placed on the bereavement list, since that requires a player to miss a minimum of three days. Maddon said Escobar didn't sleep well after being hit on the left hand with a pitch Saturday night. X-rays were negative, and Escobar is expected to return Wednesday. ... Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler returned to the lineup. He came out of Friday night's game in the fifth inning with right hip flexor soreness after swerving to avoid a collision at first base while trying to bunt for a hit.

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