PITTSBURGH | Trevor Story showed signs of snapping out of his early season funk over the weekend, even as the Colorado Rockies shortstop whiffed over and over against the Washington Nationals.
The proof arrived Monday night at frigid PNC Park after he quickly fell behind Pittsburgh starter Steven Brault with two runners on in the fourth inning. Story worked the count even, and when Brault’s 82 mph slider didn’t end up in the dirt as Brault planned, Story’s hitless skid was over.
Story turned on Brault’s offering and sent it into the bleachers in left field for a three-run home run that propelled the Rockies to a 6-2 victory over the Pirates. Story later added a single for just his second multihit game of the season, boosting his average from .177 to .200.
“There are a lot of hidden things that go into hitting but, for me, it’s just trying to keep consistent, especially in my cage work, my pregame work,” Story said. “You’re going to have ups and downs in this game, and you’ve got to be able to handle them.”
Story endured the downs against the Nationals, going 1 for 15 with 10 strikeouts even as Colorado took three of four from the NL East favorites. The up came when he waited out Brault (2-1), who knew he was in trouble the moment the ball left his left hand.
“It was one of those ‘Oh, I just hope that he doesn’t hit me’ kind of things,” Brault said. “It’s going to happen.”
Charlie Blackmon added his team-leading seventh home run for Colorado. The Rockies have won five of six overall and are 8-2 in their last 10 games away from Coors Field.
German Marquez (1-1) held the Pirates without a hit until a one-out triple by Francisco Cervelli in the fifth. He left after six innings, giving up two runs, two hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Marquez wore sleeves to fight off a wind chill that dipped into the mid-20s after opting to go sleeveless in the cold against Atlanta earlier this season.
“I was a lot smarter about dealing with the cold,” Marquez said. “I made sure I kept warm between innings. The trainers gave me hand warmers and hot towels and I used them to make sure my hands stay warm.”
Brault met his first serious bump since being thrust into the rotation as a stop-gap while Joe Musgrove deals with a strained right shoulder. The Rockies touched him for two runs in the first and three more on Story’s blast. Brault pitched a season-high six innings, allowing five runs, five hits and two walks but only managed one strikeout.
“We did a really good job of getting ahead, got to 0-2 and that was almost my kryptonite tonight,” Brault said. “I had the two walks and the home run from the 0-2 count and that just can’t happen.”
Corey Dickerson extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the seventh for the Pirates. Colin Moran added a sacrifice fly, but the surprising Pirates cooled off a bit.
Newly acquired reliever Enny Romero found plenty of familiar faces in the Pittsburgh clubhouse after the Pirates claimed the left-hander off waivers from Washington on Saturday to bolster its bullpen.
Romero spent four seasons in the minors with Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez and became familiar with Marte, Polanco and Ivan Nova while they were all growing up in the Dominican Republic. The Pirates are hoping Romero can provide some stability to a bullpen that has been the one of the few issues during their hot start.
Romero appeared in a career-high 53 games last season for the Nationals but struggled in his two appearances with Washington this year before being released.
Pirates: Musgrove is scheduled for a bullpen session Thursday. The 25-year-old, acquired from Houston as part of the trade that sent Gerrit Cole to the Astros, has been dealing with right shoulder issues since the start of spring training.
Rockies: Chad Bettis (2-0, 2.04 ERA) gave up one run and three hits over seven innings last Thursday against Washington. Bettis is 0-2 with a 6.26 ERA in six appearances against the Pirates.
Pirates: Trevor Williams (3-0, 1.56) has won three straight decisions for the first time in his career and is 3-1 with a 1.15 ERA in his last five starts at PNC Park.