DENVER (AP) Charlie Blackmon called the location of the pitch his ”where I hit balls far” zone.
He did, too – all the way into the second deck for a big momentum swing.
Blackmon lined a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh, Colorado’s lights-out bullpen threw three-plus scoreless innings and the Rockies beat Washington 8-4 on Monday night, ending the Nationals’ seven-game winning streak.
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Trailing 4-3, Blackmon sent a hanging slider from lefty Enny Romero (1-1) deep into the right-field stands. It was Blackmon’s sixth homer of the season and followed a pinch-hit double from Pat Valaika – his first hit of the season.
”Right when (Blackmon) hit it, the dugout collectively, there was just a huge, `Yeah!”’ manager Bud Black said. ”It was great – a great swing.”
On a pitch Romero would like to have back.
”Didn’t get it in enough,” Romero explained.
The Rockies’ relievers came through once again after starter Tyler Anderson wore down. Carlos Estevez (2-0) got four outs and Adam Ottavino threw an effective eighth. Greg Holland pitched the ninth in a non-save situation after the Rockies added three insurance runs in the eighth. He got pinch-hitter Bryce Harper to ground out to end the game.
The Rockies’ bullpen is now 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA, which is tops in the NL.
”We’ve been a weakness on the team for a couple of years. This year, we really don’t want to be like that,” Ottavino said. ”We want to be a strength of the team. We take that to heart. I know I do.
”I’ve been here for too many losing years, too many years where the bullpen felt like we were letting everybody down. It’s nice to be on the other side of that.”
Facing their first lefty starter of the season, the Nationals struggled early against Anderson, who features a quirky leg kick. They finally solved Anderson in the sixth, with Ryan Zimmerman providing the big blow – a two-run homer to center as part of a four-run inning.
Washington arrived in Denver around 4:30 a.m. after sweeping the Mets in New York on Sunday. Harper and Matt Wieters both were out of the starting lineup.
”We were tired,” Adam Eaton said. ”But that’s not a valid excuse.”
Spot starter Jacob Turner was cruising along until the bottom of the sixth, when he surrendered a two-run homer to Mark Reynolds. Turner was called up from Triple-A Syracuse before the game. The Nationals juggled around their rotation with Stephen Strasburg going on the paternity list.
”(Turner) gave us all we needed. That was a quality start,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. ”He gave us all he had. He threw quality strikes, all except to Reynolds.”
At 14-6, the Rockies are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. It may only be April, but they viewed this four-game series against the Nationals as a mini measuring stick.
”Why not?” said Nolan Arenado, whose team was coming off a weekend sweep of San Francisco. ”I don’t know if I can sit here and say it’s a big series. But we have to take care of business at home, no matter who it is. It could be them or the worst team in the league.”
Nationals: Baker said INF Stephen Drew (strained hamstring) is ”making pretty good progress.”
Rockies: First baseman Ian Desmond (broken left hand) took 25 swings during batting practice, ran the bases and took some grounders. ”My hand felt good,” Desmond said. There remains no timetable for Desmond’s return.
THIS & THAT
Rockies catcher Tony Wolters had three hits, including a pair of run-scoring singles. … Nationals 3B Anthony Rendon had three singles.
Righty German Marquez will be recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque to start Tuesday. He will be the third rookie pitcher in the Rockies’ rotation, joining lefty Kyle Freeland and righty Antonio Senzatela.
”I like young players. I like young pitchers. I like these guys,” Black said.
FONDNESS FOR DUSTY
Black counts Baker as one of his managerial mentors. He pitched in 1993 and `94 for Baker when they were with the San Francisco Giants.
”He’s a good manager, and a good guy, and a good friend,” Black said.
Nationals: Joe Ross (1-0, 3.86 ERA) had his start pushed back a day to Tuesday. This will be the right-hander’s first start against the Rockies.
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