Los­ing streak ends

Power pitch­ing from Gray helps Rock­ies stop eight-game slide

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Pa­trick Saun­ders

PHOENIX» Jon Gray thinks of him­self as the Rock­ies’ ace of the present and fu­ture.

It might be too early to be­stow Gray with that honor, but he sure pitched like an ace Fri­day night in a 6-3 vic­tory over the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs at Chase Field.

Re­turn­ing to a big-league mound after an ab­sence of 77 days, the right-han­der showed no signs of rust, giv­ing the Rock­ies six solid in­nings and help­ing them break their sea­son-high, eight-game los­ing streak.

For a nice change of pace, the Rock­ies paired a strong start with a re­ju­ve­nated of­fense and took it to Ari­zona su­per lefty Rob­bie Ray. Colorado tagged Ray for four runs on five hits over six in­nings, and also drew five walks. Ray en­tered the game 6-0 with 1.29 ERA over his last seven starts.

Ari­zona, one of the hottest teams in base­ball just a short time ago, lost its third con­sec­u­tive game, all at home.

Char­lie Black­mon hit a solo homer off Ray in the first in­ning and Raimel Tapia led off the sixth with an­other. The first home run of Tapia’s ca­reer put Colorado ahead 4-2.

The Rock­ies’ lead grew to 5-2 in the sev­enth on a triple by Nolan Are­nado — his fourth in June — fol­lowed by an in­field, RBI ground­out by Mark Reynolds. The speedy Tapia made noise again in the eighth, lead­ing off with a dou­ble into the left-cen­ter field gap, mov­ing to third on Ryan Hani­gan’s sac­ri­fice bunt and scor­ing eas­ily on a wild pitch by Di­a­mond­backs re­liever Jorge De La Rosa, the for­mer Rockie.

Gray’s fast­ball hit 97 mph, but his best pitch was his slider. Proof of the nasty na­ture of that pitch was on dis­play in three at-

bats by Di­a­mond­backs all-star first base­man Paul Gold­schmidt, one of the best hit­ters in base­ball. Gray whiffed him all three times, with Gold­schmidt wav­ing over the top of the slider each time.

Gray fin­ished with 10 strike­outs and only one walk. The game marked the sev­enth dou­ble-digit strike­out game of Gray’s young ca­reer.

The Di­a­mond­backs hit Gray hard in the first in­ning, get­ting a lead­off sin­gle from Gre­gor Blanco and an RBI dou­ble from Jake Lamb. The fourth was rough, too, with Chris Owings lead­ing off with a homer and Bran­don Drury fol­low­ing with a dou­ble, but Gray kept his cool and es­caped fur­ther trou­ble.

The Rock­ies wasted no time dent­ing Ray’s ar­mor. Black­mon drove the third pitch of the game into the right-field seats. Black­mon’s homer was his 17th of the sea­son, and his third to lead off a game.

Greg Hol­land posted his 26th save in 27 chances with a score­less ninth.

Matt York, AP

Ryan Hani­gan high-fives Raimel Tapia after Tapia hit a solo home run in the sixth in­ning of the Rock­ies’ se­ries opener against the Di­a­mond­backs in Phoenix on Fri­day night. Tapia’s homer at Chase Field helped the Rock­ies im­prove to 48-34.

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