Losing streak ends
Power pitching from Gray helps Rockies stop eight-game slide
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.
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.