Three-run 10th sends Rays past Rockies

Jack Etkin, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

DENVER -- The Tampa Bay Rays arrived in Denver on the third and final stop on what has been a difficult road trip, continuing their troubles away from home this season. Meanwhile, the Colorado Rockies have thrived at home.
But the Rays turned that around Friday night, scoring three runs in the 10th inning to beat the Rockies 7-4. It was just the fifth win for the Rays in 16 road games and their first win in extra innings this season after three such losses on the road.
The Rockies had won nine of their first 12 home games, but after three relievers held the Rays scoreless for four innings, Matt Belisle was roughed up in the 10th.
Ben Zobrist began the inning by poking a double inside third base. Evan Longoria followed with a run-scoring single and, with one out, Kelly Johnson drove a two-run homer into the Rockies bullpen in right center on a 1-2 fastball.
Belisle had a 2.20 ERA in 16 1/3 innings in his first 14 appearances. He had not allowed a run in his past five outings and had not allowed a home run this season.
Fernando Rodney, the seventh Rays pitcher, gave up a leadoff single in the 10th to Nolan Arenado, who went 3 for 5 with two doubles in his first game at Coors Field. But Rodney got Josh Rutledge to ground into a fielder's choice and struck out Jonathan Herrera looking.
Pinch-hitter Reid Brignac, who began his career in the Rays' organization before the Rockies acquired him in a February trade, singled, sending Herrera to third. Brignac took second on defensive indifference, but Rodney picked up his fourth save by striking out Eric Young Jr., who unsuccessfully tried to check his swing.
The Rockies left 12 runners on base.
Starters Jeff Francis and Matt Moore each lasted five innings, gave up four runs and left without a decision. Moore was attempting to become the fifth American League pitcher since 2008 to begin his season with six wins in six starts. He took the mound 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA, having held opposing batters to a .121 batting average (13 for 107). His ERA rose to 1.95.
He threw 101 pitches and gave up four runs and two homers after allowing four runs and three homers in 32 innings before making his first appearance in Coors Field.
For Francis, it was his second straight five-inning start and the fifth straight time he has failed to pitch at least six innings since he went that distance in the Rockies' home opener on April 5.
Arenado's RBI double in the fifth tied the score 4-4. Arenado then made an alert play, tagging up and taking third when first baseman Sean Rodriguez made a sliding catch of a foul popup. But Moore retired Herrera on a fly to right.
The Rays took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Jose Lobaton led off with a double and Desmond Jennings belted his fourth homer with one out. He launched Francis' 3-1 fastball over the fence in straightaway center field and extended the Rays' club record of hitting a home run in 17 consecutive games.
Dexter Fowler, who left the game with right hip flexor soreness after a sacrifice in the fifth, extended his career-high hitting streak to 11 games by leading off the first with a single. After he was forced at second and Carlos Gonzalez popped out, Michael Cuddyer drove Moore's 1-0 fastball over the fence in straightaway center for his sixth homer.
Rutledge opened the second with his fourth homer, an opposite-field shot into the Rockies bullpen in right center on Moore's 3-1 fastball. Moore had allowed four runs and three homers in 32 innings in his first five starts.
Francis gave up his first hit in the third, an infield single to Lobaton leading off the inning. Back-to-back two-out doubles by Ryan Roberts and Zobrist produced two runs, and Francis fell behind Longoria 3-1. But he got Longoria to swing and miss the next two pitches, a fastball on the outer portion of the plate followed by one inside.
Moore stranded runners on second and third in the third and walked No. 8 hitter Herrera and Francis to start the fourth. The walk to Francis came on four pitches. After Fowler's sacrifice, Moore struck out Jordan Pacheco and Gonzalez.
NOTES: Fowler was replaced by Young in the middle of the fifth inning. After his sacrifice in the top of the inning, Fowler left the field walking gingerly and was diagnosed with right hip flexor soreness. ... Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was not in the lineup, saying his legs felt "a little heavy." Manager Walt Weiss said during Wednesday night's game at Los Angeles that Tulowitzki said he felt tightness in his upper legs. Jonathan Herrera started at shortstop in place of Tulowitzki, who played in just 47 games last year because of a left groin injury. Weiss said he didn't consider this an injury but more a precaution and expected Tuowitzki not to be out more than one game. ... First baseman Todd Helton (left forearm strain) and pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (back strain) are both eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list, and Weiss said he expected both would do so. Helton said he has hit the past few days with no pain. Chacin said he will be ready to pitch Sunday when his turn arises in the rotation. The Rockies will have to decide whether Tyler Chatwood, who made the two starts Chacin missed and is lined up to pitch Sunday, or Juan Nicasio is optioned to Triple-A. Nicasio's scheduled start is Wednesday against the Yankees. ... Needing to start one left-handed hitter, Rays manager Joe Maddon went with Reed Johnson in left field, saying the decision came down to Johnson's offense or Sam Fuld's defense at Coors Field. Johnson entered the game 7 for 15 against Francis with one homer and three RBIs. ...Rays pitcher David Price, who will start Saturday, singled off Aaron Cook in his first major-league at-bat June 17, 2009, at Coors Field in Price's only start against the Rockies. ... Rays left fielder Shelley Duncan was outrighted Friday to Triple-A Durham on Friday. He accepted the assignment. The Rays designated the 33-year-old Duncan for assignment Tuesday after he started the season 10 for 55 (.182) with two homers and six RBIs in 20 games.

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