Rockies score both runs on sac flies in 2-1 win
DENVER – Brad Hawpe hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth, lifting Colorado to a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals on Sunday as Jeff Francis threw seven sharp innings without a decision in his first start since September 2008.
The Rockies also scored their first run of the game on a sacrifice fly, when Miguel Olivo lifted a fly to left in the second.
Pinch hitter Seth Smith began the rally in the eighth by drawing a walk off reliever Tyler Clippard (7-2), who entered the game tied for the major league lead in wins. Carlos Gonzalez followed with a single and then Dexter Fowler bunted them over.
Hawpe lifted the ball to left to bring home Smith, allowing the Rockies to take three of four from the Nationals.
Matt Belisle (1-0) pitched the eighth and Manuel Corpas retired the side in the ninth for his second save in three chances.
Francis allowed just one run and seven hits while striking out six.
The lefty missed the 2009 season after undergoing shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, then started this season on the disabled list after straining the area beneath his left armpit in his last appearance of spring training.
He was activated from the DL before the game. The Rockies optioned right-handed reliever Matt Daley to Triple-A Colorado Springs to make room on the roster.
Francis was the staff ace during Colorado’s run to the World Series in 2007, winning 17 games.
He was on a strict pitch count Sunday. Manager Jim Tracy said Francis wouldn’t be allowed to go over 100.
Francis finished at 106 as Tracy allowed him to wiggle out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh. He struck out Scott Olsen and Nyjer Morgan and then got Ian Desmond to pop out.
On his way to the dugout, Francis was given a standing ovation by the crowd.
Olsen fared much better this time around against Colorado, allowing just five hits and one run in 6 2-3 innings. He was hit hard by the Rockies on April 20 as they scored six runs off him in two innings.
Since that outing, though, Olsen has allowed two runs or less in five straight starts. But three have resulted in no-decisions.
Troy Tulowitzki led off the second with a double to left and scored on Olivo’s sacrifice fly.
The Nationals produced a run in a similar fashion in the first, after Morgan began the game with a single. He later scored on a sacrifice fly by Cristian Guzman.
Before the game, the Nationals officially designated Willy Taveras for assignment and reinstated utility player Mike Morse from the disabled list. Morse missed 32 games with a left calf injury and was on rehab assignment with Triple-A Syracuse before joining the team.
With Adam Dunn coming down with flu-like symptoms, Morse filled in at first base Sunday, coming through with two singles.
Asked if he would’ve given Dunn the day off anyway, manager Jim Riggleman said, “I don’t like to give anybody with power off in Colorado, especially after (Dunn) hit a couple of homers yesterday. If he was available, he’d be in.”
NOTES: Nationals RHP Livan Hernandez volunteered to pitch Wednesday against the New York Mets on short rest and Riggleman plans to take him up on that offer. … Former Colorado Avalanche star Joe Sakic tossed out the first pitch. … Washington has gone 12 games without allowing a run in the first inning. … With a single in the first, Rockies OF Carlos Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to a career-best 10 games.
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