Diamondbacks’ Koch tries to extend Rockies’ home skid to six

DENVER — Matt Koch, a godsend to the Arizona Diamondbacks‘ rotation, will start Saturday and try to help them clinch their weekend series against the Colorado Rockies.

The Diamondbacks pounded the Rockies 9-4 on Friday night, hitting three homers in the third inning against German Marquez and sending the Rockies to their sixth loss in eight games. The Rockies (32-31) have lost five consecutive home games, allowing seven or more runs in each game. Their record at Coors Field is 11-17.

Friday’s win increased Arizona’s lead in the National League West to 1 1/2 games over the Rockies, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, who are tied for second place.

Koch (4-3, 3.76) held Miami scoreless on three hits for seven innings in his last start Sunday as the Diamondbacks won, 6-1. Koch is in his second stint this season with the Diamondbacks (33-29).

He began the season at Triple-A Reno, was recalled April 3, optioned April 7 and recalled again April 20, taking the place in the rotation of Taijuan Walker, who was lost for the year after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Diamondbacks’ rotation took another hit when Robbie Ray left an April 29 start with a left oblique strain.

The Diamondbacks are 5-4 in games started by Koch, who is 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds and was traded to Arizona by the Mets in the deal that sent reliever Addison Reed to New York in August 2015.

“We liked what we saw as far as his body, his physique and his stuff coming out of spring training,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said of Koch. “We sent him down, and it was a tough send-down because he performed.

“So we felt he had a good chance to step into this environment, if it was needed. We just didn’t know the need would arise the way it did. He’s gotten an extended look, and he’s deserved the outings that he’s had because he has done exceptionally well.

“I know that he’s worked hard for this. I would say he saved us. He’s been a staff-saver. In a situation where two of our guys went down, he stepped in and gave us some quality innings.”

Koch is 0-0, 0.00 in one four-inning relief appearance against the Rockies in 2016.

The right-handed Koch has limited left-handed hitters to a .186 batting average and .612 OPS in 112 plate appearances. Right-handed hitters have done considerably more damage against Koch with a .314 average and .917 OPS in 111 plate appearances.

Rockies starter Chad Bettis (4-1, 4.01) has allowed five runs in each of his past two starts that have totaled 11 2/3 innings. In his last outing Sunday against the Dodgers in a 10-7 loss for the Rockies, Bettis gave up seven hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The big blow was a three-run homer in the third by Max Muncy. The hit came on the 11th pitch Bettis threw to Muncy, a cutter that didnt get in enough on him, and cut the Rockies lead to 6-4.

Bettis ended up with his fifth straight no-decision in that start and has a 7.16 ERA in those games. Opponents are batting .310 with a .872 OPS during that stretch.

After winning the first four games Bettis started this season, the Rockies have gone 3-5 when he takes the mound. Bettis is 0-0 with a 7.24 ERA in five starts at home this season. He is 1-2 in 10 games (seven starts) against the Diamondbacks.

No longer a power pitcher after recovering from testicular cancer and returning to the Rockies in August, Bettis relies on command with an 89-91 mph four-seam fastball, a plus changeup, a cutter and a curveball.

“I think with Chad and his pitch mix, it’s critical that he’s able to command the fastball,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “And I think what’s happened is there’s some moment where he’s tried to locate the fastball, it just hasn’t got to the spot where he’s needed to get it. And it’s come back to hurt him really quick.”