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Rockies take care of business in defeating Mets

The Rockies found a way to win, like good teams do, in the rubber game against the Mets.

DENVER — The rubber game of the three-game series between the Rockies and Mets Thursday at Coors Field was a tightly-contested, back-and-forth affair.

As the innings wound down, it felt like one of those games a good team was going to find a way to win, a bad team was going to find a way to lose or both. And that is exactly what happened.

With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the ninth, Mets reliever Hansel Robles fired a 3-2 pitch to Nolan Arenado to the backstop, issuing his third walk, and fourth free pass, of the inning and forcing in Jonathan Lucroy, who was making his Rockies debut, with the winning run in a 5-4 Rockies win.

“I was 0-2, and the last thing I wanted to do was expand the zone. The game I got the blooper off him (a walk-off single on Tuesady) I expanded the zone and I was like ‘I don’t want to do that here,’” Arenado said.

It took four consecutive two-out hits for the Rockies to get on the board in the bottom of the third. After Mets starter Rafael Montero struck out the first two batters of the inning, Charlie Blackmon’s double was followed by singles from DJ LeMahieu, Arenado and Gerardo Parra, with LeMahieu and Parra driving in runs to give the Rockies a 2-1 lead.

The Mets got on the board in the fourth when Rockies starter Germán Márquez left a 2-2 fastball up and over the plate to Yoenis Cespedes, who smacked it 440 feet into the left field bleachers, cutting the Rockies lead to 2-1.

“After he swung at the one curveball and missed, we should have chased it with another one and that’s my fault,” Lucroy said.

Lucroy and Márquez did not make the same mistake when Cespedes came to the bases loaded and one out in the fifth. Márquez threw three straight curveballs to get ahead of Cespedes 0-2 before blowing a 99 mph fastball past the Mets All-Star to secure a strikeout. Márquez got out of the inning allowing just one run, the game tied, 2-2.

“There comes a time where a pitcher has to make a pitch at a critical moment and Márquez did,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.

The Rockies grabbed the lead back in the bottom of the fifth, which Charlie Blackmon led off with his 25th home run of the season. Blackmon combined with LeMahieu and Arenado at the top of the Rockies’ order to go 8-for-11 with three doubles, a home run and four walks in the game.

New York tied the game in the top of the sixth, as Márquez walked Curtis Granderson, who advanced to second on a ground out and scored Rene Rivera’s base hit. The sixth was Márquez’s final inning, as he finished with 97 pitches in the six frames, allowing three runs, all earned, on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. It was his fifth straight quality start.

“I’m feeling really good,” Márquez said. “I’ve stayed really focused and just try to get better each time I go out.”

In the bottom of the inning the Rockies took the lead yet again, this time via Mark Reynolds who, on his 34th birthday, hit his 25th home run, a solo shot against Montero that gave the Rockies a 4-3 lead.

Pat Neshek came on in the seventh in relief of Márquez and promptly gave up a base hit to Michael Conforto and an RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera, tying the game for the third time. He then retired the next three Mets in order to get out of the inning with no further damage.

“Man on second, no outs, they didn’t score. Pat did a nice job,” Black said.

The Rockies had a chance to take the lead in the bottom of the seventh, but LeMahieu was thrown out at third trying to stretch a double into a triple. Arenado then followed with a ground-rule double of his own.

“Revisionist history, if DJ stays at second base, they probably walk Nolan, right? They’re not gonna pitch to Nolan,” Black said.

After both teams went scoreless in the eighth, Greg Holland used a pair of strikeouts to work around a single in the top of the ninth, setting the Rockies up for the walk-off.

With the win, the Rockies kept pace with the Diamondbacks, who beat the Cubs, 10-8, on Thursday. They are a half game back of their division rival for the first Wild Card spot.

The Rockies will continue the homestand Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, with Kyle Freeland taking on Vince Velazquez. First pitch is at 6:40 p.m. Mountain time.