Charlie Blackmon hit a three-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Rockies a 9-6 victory over the Cubs in Cactus League action on Wednesday night.
Blackmon's game-winning heroics came after Rockies reliever Greg Burke blew a two-run lead in the top half of the frame. Burke surrendered a one-out home run to Luis Valbuena and, after giving up a couple of hard-hit singles, was done in by a throwing error from shortstop Rafael Ynoa that scored two runs and gave Chicago the lead.
Ryan Arrowood came on in relief of Burke with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth and retired Oliver Zapata to end the disastrous inning, which proved beneficial several minutes later.
Jordan Pacheco led off the bottom half of the inning against Cubs reliever Paolo Espino and Ryan Wheeler followed with a double, hits that eventually paid off when Charlie Culberson tied the game on a sac fly and Blackmon won it with the deep fly.
The Rockies didn't do much offensively entering the ninth, with the exception of Carlos Gonzalez, who was perfect in three plate appearances. Gonzalez walked his first time up , then with two outs in the bottom of the third, walloped a Carlos Villanueva offering high up onto the right-center field berm for his second homer of the spring. The deep fly plated Franklin Morales, who hit a one-out ground rule double, and Blackmon.
CarGo walked again in the sixth and scored on Wilin Rosario's sacrifice fly, giving the Rockies a 5-2 lead. But that's when the trouble started. Highly touted prospect Javier Baez hit a monster home run off of Rockies reliever Rob Scahill in the eighth, an inning before Burke's blowup that resulted in three runs on four hits and a pair of walks being added to his spring line.
It was a pretty good night for the guys who will actually be in the Rockies' bullpen come Opening Day. Matt Belisle, who has had a rough spring to this point, struck out two batters in a 1-2-3 sixth. Adam Ottavino followed with a scoreless seventh that included two punch outs and a walk.
LaTroy Hawkins allowed a run in the fifth, but it came on an infield single and a bloop double. He's starting to settle in a bit after a rough start, though you can almost expect more of the same hittability once the real games start due to his historically low strikeout rate. It makes his presence as closer worrisome, but also something that can be fixed real quick with Rex Brothers lurking behind him.
Morales was uneven at best in his four innings of work, allowing only one hit but surrendering three walks while also notching three strikeouts. The 28-year-old southpaw apparently tweaked his groin while issuing a walk to Darwin Barney early in the game, but he told MLB.com's Thomas Harding he's "OK."
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