In front of a sellout crowd on Star Wars night at Coors Field the Rockies snapped Pittsburgh’s six game winning streak and moved into a tie for second place in the NL West with Arizona. They got contributions from almost everyone on offense, including good days from Carlos Gonzalez and Ian Desmond, and German Marquez pitched brilliantly after a rough first inning.
The Pirates took a 1-0 lead out of the gate when Marquez walked Josh Harrison and then gave up a double to Andrew McCutchen.
Still trailing 1-0 in the third, Marquez started a rally for the Rockies when he singled up the middle. He advanced to third on a Charlie Blackmon double and scored on a DJ LeMahieu sac-fly. Nolan Arenado gave the Rockies the lead moments later with a double down the line in right and he would come around to score on a Mark Reynolds single. At the end of the inning it was 3-1 Rockies.
Pittsburgh got a run back in the fourth when Josh Bell smoked a line drive just over the auxiliary scoreboard in right field for his 18th home run of the season.
Carlos Gonzalez and Trevor Story combined to give the Rockies their fourth run in the bottom of the fourth when CarGo smoked a double to right and Story singled him home. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll see more of that from them in the coming weeks.
The Rockies nearly took a 5-2 lead in the fifth but Nolan Arenado was gunned down at the plate by a perfect Pirates relay. Blame Stu Cole for sending him, or blame Nolan for looking back over his shoulder as he rounded third. The silver lining is that Arenado only tried to score from first because Ian Desmond hit 415-foot fly ball that hit off the wall in center - his hardest contact in a very long time.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the sixth when Pittsburgh starter Chad Kuhl threw the first pitch of the inning right at Carlos Gonzalez. The Pirates were apparently unhappy with German Marquez hitting Andrew McCutchen the previous inning, and decided to send a message. CarGo took exception and the benches cleared at Coors Field for the first time since I can remember. No punches were thrown and no one was ejected, but it was all very exciting, especially for the bullpens who got to run all the way to the infield.
After a 30 pitch first inning Marquez settled in quite well and made it through seven innings on 97 pitches. He struck out nine, walked two, and allowed two runs on just three hits. His game score was 69 and he lowered his ERA to 4.20 in earning his eighth win of the season.
Charlie Blackmon tripled to lead off the bottom of the seventh and Ian Desmond drove him home with two outs after disappointing at-bats from DJ LeMahieu and Mark Reynolds.
With the score 5-2 in the top of the eighth, Jake McGee allowed the first two hitters he faced to reach base before Arenado, LeMahieu and Reynolds turned a beautiful, difficult double play that took some of the pressure off. Then McGee got ahead of Andrew McCutchen 0-2, but the Pirates star fouled off several pitches and eventually worked a walk. With the tying run at the plate and four outs left in the game, Bud Black went to Greg Holland, who overcame the fans inexplicably doing the wave and got Josh Bell to fly out to end the threat.
The Rockies tacked on a pair insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth. Trevor Story worked a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a Tony Wolters bunt and scored on an Alexi Amarista double. Amarista subsequently scored DJ LeMahieu’s single that made the score 7-2.
Despite the five run lead, Holland came back out for the ninth inning. The long wait in the dugout between innings didn’t seem to help him. He walked two and loaded the bases, and then Starling Marte hit a soft chopper that was too slow for Trevor Story to make a play. That made the score 7-3 and Josh Harrison came to the plate representing the tying run. Bud Black left Holland in and, on his season-high 34th pitch of the inning, he got Harrison to fly out to end the game.
With the win the Rockies improved to 57-42 on the season and 30-19 at home. They are now tied for the lead in the National League Wild Card race. The series with the Pirates concludes tomorrow at 1:10 MDT. Ivan Nova gets the start for Pittsburgh and Kyle Freeland will go for the Rockies. We’ll see if it’s as exciting as the last time Kyle pitched at Coors Field on a Sunday.