Rockies hold on for precious road win in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH ” As poorly as the Colorado Rockies play on the road, they probably knew it would take some outside help to get a victory away from Coors Field. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ first error in 11 games provided exactly that.
Left-hander Joe Kennedy won on the road for the first time this season and the Rockies held on to win despite an adventuresome two-run Pittsburgh ninth inning, beating the Pirates 4-3 on Sunday for only their third road victory all season.
Catcher J.D. Closser, brushed by runner Michael Restovich on the play, held on to David Ross’ twisting popup on a 3-2 pitch by reliever Brian Fuentes to preserve it with two on and two outs in the ninth.
Kennedy (3-4) hadn’t allowed a runner past first base since the first inning before Jason Bay tripled and Jose Castillo doubled in the ninth.
Fuentes then got his second save in as many opportunities, but not before walking Restovich and allowing Humberto Cota’s two-out, run-scoring single.
Ross fought off several pitches, then hit a high, spiraling popup that caused Closser and the Rockies some anxious moments.
“That was a great catch by J.D.,” Fuentes said. “I know I couldn’t have caught it.”
If nothing else highlights how the Rockies’ season is going ” they’re 13-28 overall and 3-17 on the road ” it’s that even a popup to the catcher is anything but a routine play.
Just like Kennedy’s apparent inning-ending flyball to center fielder Tike Redman in the fourth proved anything but ordinary. The ball somehow glanced off the bottom of Redman’s glove, scoring Garrett Atkins to put the Rockies up 2-1.
“You see outfielders drop routine balls and you hope it never happens to you,” said Redman, who went 6-for-10 in the series. “I wanted to crawl up under a rock when I dropped it. I couldn’t believe it.”
The error was Pittsburgh’s first in 95 innings over 11 games and cost the Pirates, who are second in the NL in team defense, a chance to set a team record with 11 consecutive errorless games. It also cost them a possible three-game sweep.
“I like the way we’re playing, but every now and then we’re going to have some tough losses,” said manager Lloyd McClendon, whose team has dropped three of its last five at home ” all by one run in the ninth inning.
The Pirates were confident of completing the sweep against Kennedy (3-4), who was 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA on the road. But he limited them to five hits and three runs ” two earned ” over 8 1-3 innings in his second consecutive victory.
“I had eight games where I’d done well for the first three-four innings, and then something always happens,” said Kennedy, who hadn’t won on the road since Sept. 13. “It’s definitely been frustrating.”
Kennedy’s solid start contrasted to that by Josh Fogg (3-3), who struggled all afternoon while allowing four runs ” three earned ” walking five and giving up five hits in five innings.
“I can’t afford to do that, put five extra guys on base,” Fogg said. “It’s unacceptable.”
Fogg hit Garrett Atkins with a pitch with the bases loaded to make it 3-1 in the fifth, following two walks and Matt Holliday’s single, and Relaford hit a sacrifice fly. The inning before, Relaford had a run-scoring single off first baseman Daryle Ward’s glove.
Kennedy’s second start in Pittsburgh was certainly better than his first, a 3-0 loss on Aug. 15 in which he was ejected, fined and suspended for five games after hitting Jason Kendall with a pitch in the fourth inning.
This time, the Pirates took a 1-0 lead in the first after shortstop Clint Barmes misplayed Jack Wilson’s one-out grounder, then threw it away, sending Wilson to second and giving Barmes two errors. Ward followed with an opposite-field RBI single to left a batter later.
With manager Clint Hurdle back in Denver with his sick daughter and bench coach Jamie Quirk attending his daughter’s high school graduation, the Rockies used batting coach Duane Espy and pitching coach Bob Apodaca as co-managers.
“I joked with Dac (Apodaca), if he (Kennedy) can throw nine shutout innings, I think I can figure out the rest of this,” Espy said.
Fogg had given up two earned runs or fewer in six of his previous seven starts. … Pirates starting pitchers were 8-1 with a 2.32 ERA in the previous 11 starts. … Kennedy had allowed four earned runs or more in five of his previous seven starts. … The Pirates have won 11 of 17, but went 4-4 on their just-concluded homestand.
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