Having learned the lesson this season of trying to play catch-up at Coors Field, the Colorado Rockies wasted no time in putting pressure on the Houston Astros and Bud Norris on Thursday night. The Rockies scored five runs in the first inning, thanks in large part to a three run home run blast by Carlos Gonzalez, and then for good measure added four more runs in the second to race out to a quick 9-1 lead and not look back on their way to an 11-5 victory.
For Gonzalez, the first inning home run marked his fourth straight plate appearance with a long bomb, a record shared by several players. The Astros had enough by the time he came up again in the second, as they intentionally walked him. Cargo would finish a triple short of the cycle and add a stolen base and three runs as he approaches the NL leaders in the three triple crown categories, and pads his own lead in the runs scored department.
Jeremy Guthrie displayed the kind of efficient mortality that seems to be needed at Coors Field this season, giving up five runs and twelve hits, but lasting seven innings while throwing only 99 pitches. He did this despite cycling through the Astros lineup three and a half times. The key for Guthrie was avoiding walks, which tend to compound the scoring and shorten the outing.
Instead, coming out of the start with mere flesh wounds allowed the offense to take charge, and the offense responded in a big way. Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and Jordan Pacheco each had three hits for the Rockies and combined for eight runs batted in. Dexter Fowler continued his recent tear of on base success with a hit and a pair of drawn walks. Marco Scutaro added two hits, including his second home run of the season. Fowler, Gonzalez, Pacheco and Wilin Rosario all were successful with stolen base attempts as well.
Houston starter Bud Norris was tagged for most of the damage, allowing nine runs and getting pulled before he even made it out of the second inning.
With the four game sweep of the series, the Rockies have made a move to get back to a less distant fourth place in the division, but will need a strong series against NL West leading Los Angeles this weekend if they truly want to get back into a position where they'd have a puncher's chance of making noise in 2012
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