PITTSBURGH | The Colorado Rockies, road warriors?
Ian Desmond hit his fourth home run of the season and rookie German Marquez pitched effectively into the sixth inning as the surprising Rockies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Wednesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
Marquez (5-3) gave up one run and four hits in five-plus innings as Colorado avoided being swept for the first time this season. Raimel Tapia went 4 for 4 and scored three times for the Rockies. Jake McGee bailed Colorado out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh.
The Rockies have won a major-league best 25 games on the road.
“They persevere, they stay at it,” manager Bud Black said. “There’s sort of a quiet tenacity to our group.”
The Pirates managed just one extra-base hit and left eight men on as their season-high four-game winning streak came to an end.
Chad Kuhl (1-6) remained winless since April 8. He gave up three runs in five innings and his ERA sits at 5.61 through 12 starts, though he’s improved of late. Kuhl’s ERA is 3.60 over his last three appearances. Manager Clint Hurdle plans on keeping Kuhl in the rotation for now.
“As far as the battle, the fight, it was there,” Hurdle said. “Talking about 3-0 (when Kuhl exits). Yeah it’s not what you’re looking for leaving the clubhouse, then again it’s not like he got barreled up.”
The Rockies are one of the biggest surprises in the majors, fueled by a starting rotation dotted with rookies and a newfound competence away from Coors Field. The 22-year-old Marquez is helping lead the way. He improved to 3-1 with a 3.00 ERA on the road after keeping the surging Pirates in check then relying on the bullpen to do the rest.
“He was a little erratic at times, but the stuff was good and he made some pitches when he needed to,” Black said.
Marquez bounced back from the shortest outing of his brief career (three innings in a loss to the Chicago Cubs last Friday) to work into the sixth. By then the Rockies already had a 3-0 lead.
Desmond sent a pitch from Kuhl just over the reach of left fielder John Jaso with one out in the second to put Colorado up. The Rockies added two more in the fifth. Desmond led off with a walk and scored on Trevor Story’s RBI-single. Tapia then darted home when Pittsburgh first baseman Josh Bell couldn’t field Marquez’s sacrifice bunt.
The Pirates had a chance to get back in it in the seventh, loading the bases with one out. McGee came on and got Adam Frazier to fly out to center then struck out Josh Harrison on three pitches.
“Five, six and seven we’re out there,” Hurdle said. “If we get one of those innings to click, it’s a different game.”
Pittsburgh didn’t threaten again as Colorado won for just the third time in its last 14 games at PNC Park.
The benches cleared briefly in the fifth after Marquez hit Pittsburgh catcher Francisco Cervelli in the left arm with a pitch. Cervelli, activated off the 10-day DL earlier in the day after recovering from a concussion, exchanged words with Colorado catcher Tony Wolters. Players and coaches made their way onto the field but quickly dispersed.
“When you get hit at 98 you get scared man,” Cervelli said. “As a catcher, your job is avoid the fight and not just be talking and looking for fights, that’s it.”
Black is giving struggling outfielder Carlos Gonzalez a break hoping it will help him break out of an extended funk. Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star, is hitting just .215 this season and is 0 for 24 over his last seven games.
“You can look at the numbers and they’re not good right now,” Black said. “But he’s going to come out of it.”
Rockies: Begin a seven-game homestand on Thursday against San Francisco. Colorado rookie Jeff Hoffman (4-0, 2.33) will look for his fifth straight victory. Matt Moore (2-7, 5.28) starts for the Giants.
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