Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 7

Justin Upton lost the grip on his bat in the eighth inning and

sent it spinning into the stands.

Usually, he might have let the lucky fan keep it as a souvenir.

Only Upton’s down to just a handful of bats after breaking quite a

few on this road swing, so he had this one retrieved.

Upton put it to good use, too, hitting a two-out, two-run shot

off closer Rafael Betancourt in the ninth inning to help the

Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Colorado Rockies 9-7 on Thursday.

Upton sent a 93 mph fastball from Betancourt (1-1) over the

right field fence for his first homer in two weeks.

”That was nice,” Upton said. ”Just being able to put all my

struggles aside and come up big for the team. That’s always a goal,

but it’s not always that easy. When you can get it done, it

definitely feels good.”

His big hit was just part of the story. Upton also made a

sliding catch to end the eighth and keep the game tied.

Any connection between the catch and the homer?

”It shows up a lot that way,” Upton said. ”A guy makes a good

play and comes in and starts off an inning with a hit. It happens

that way, but I don’t know if you necessarily mentally bring it

with you (to the plate). It definitely makes you feel good, that

you can stop some runs from scoring. It kind of puts you in a good

mood.”

These days, good moods – and swings – have been hard to come by

for the All-Star outfielder. Upton entered the game hitting just

.163 over his last 13 games. Not only that, but his average was

even lower (.111) with runners in scoring position.

That’s not like Upton, who had a monster season in 2011 when he

hit .289 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs.

With one swing, he felt more like himself.

”I was yelling at it to get up and it carried for me, which is

nice,” Upton said.

Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts also drove in two runs apiece

as the Diamondbacks won for the third time in 12 contests.

J.J. Putz escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth by getting

Ramon Hernandez to hit into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play for his

seventh save in nine chances.

The buzz surrounding this game, though, centered on the bees

that invaded the stadium, taking over a camera bay next to the

Rockies’ dugout in the fifth inning and temporarily halting the

game. They remained stuck to a railing until a beekeeper arrived an

inning later to vacuum up the bees and relocate them.

”I’m not scared of bees,” Carlos Gonzalez said.

Lately, Coors Field has resembled ”Wild Kingdom,” with a

squirrel scampering into the outfield grass the night before.

Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer off starter Trevor Cahill

and Jordan Pacheco added a solo shot to help stake the Rockies to

an early 4-1 lead.

But it wouldn’t last. Bloomquist ignited a four-run eighth with

an RBI single off Rex Brothers. Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt and

Roberts also added run-scoring singles.

The three-run cushion wouldn’t be enough as David Hernandez was

roughed up in the eighth. He loaded the bases and then walked

Dexter Fowler to bring in a run. Michael Cuddyer sent a chopper to

Roberts, who booted the grounder to allow another run to score.

With the bases still full, Marco Scutaro drew another walk to

tie the game at 7.

Brad Ziegler (2-1) relieved Hernandez and promptly gave up a

sinking liner to pinch-hitter Wilin Rosario. But Upton made a

sliding catch in right to quell the threat.

Gerardo Parra had a one-out double in the ninth and stole third.

After Betancourt struck out Bloomquist, Upton drilled his fourth

homer of the season.

”He’s worked hard and he was rewarded today,” Diamondbacks

manager Kirk Gibson said.

Putz started out the ninth in rocky fashion, giving up singles

to Gonzalez, Tulowitzki and Todd Helton. The Rockies then sent

pitcher Alex White to the plate to pinch hit for Betancourt – with

no intention of swinging.

”We’re not going to let him hit into a double play and wipe the

inning out,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

Instead, White took a called third strike on a 3-2 count.

”It was terrible. I was doing what I had to do to try to help

the team, but obviously I wanted to swing there,” White said.

Hernandez then hit a weak grounder to Roberts to end the

game.

”Not the way you draw it up, but made a big pitch when I needed

to,” Putz said.

Rockies starter Juan Nicasio had a scare in the first inning

when Bloomquist sent a liner straight at him. Nicasio turned his

back just in time and was struck on the right thigh.

The play was eerily reminiscent of the line drive that hit

Nicasio in the right temple last August, when he suffered a

fractured skull along with a neck injury. Doctors had to perform

emergency surgery to insert pins into the cracked C-1 vertebra and

attach a small metal plate to the back of his neck.

Nicasio made a remarkable recovery to become one of the Rockies’

most reliable pitchers this season.

That hit, though, caught him good.

”I can pitch, but I couldn’t stay back,” said Nicasio, who

gave up one run in 4 2-3 innings. ”I couldn’t push off – I was

only throwing with my arm and my shoulder.

”It will be all right. I won’t miss a start,” he said.

NOTES: Arizona OF Chris Young (shoulder) could be available as

soon as this weekend for interleague play in Kansas City. … The

Rockies host the Seattle Mariners on Friday night, with White (0-2)

facing RHP Kevin Millwood (1-4). … The Rockies issued nine walks

against Arizona.