ROCK­IES 12, WHITE SOX 4 Colorado pounds Chicago with 17 hits, in­clud­ing three homers

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Nick Groke

For more than two wretched weeks, the Rock­ies stum­bled around the Na­tional League West and fell south, los­ing a grip on first place, then sec­ond place, and sink­ing to their low­est spot in the standings since last year. The Dodgers and Di­a­mond­backs, mean­while, en­gaged in a se­ries in Los An­ge­les that both sides thought might al­ready de­cide the di­vi­sion ti­tle — in July.

“From Day One, we knew we were the best club,” Dodgers man­ager Dave Roberts said Thurs­day af­ter his club swept Ari­zona one week af­ter sweep­ing Colorado. “It’s just a mat­ter of go­ing out and play­ing.”

Nearly half a sea­son re­mains un­til base­ball folds into Oc­to­ber’s play­offs — and be­fore the Rock­ies could ob­ject to Roberts’ as­ser­tion the race is over, they had a slump to bust.

Af­ter Nolan Are­nado, Char­lie Black­mon and DJ LeMahieu smacked home runs Fri­day in a 12-4 interleague vic­tory over the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field, Colorado, for one night, found some foot­ing.

The Rock­ies (51-38) won just a fourth game in their past 16, but they did it in style, knock­ing a sea­son-high 17 hits, in­clud­ing four dou­bles, off the last-place White Sox. This is how sum­mer is meant to look in Den­ver with 38,386 fans loom­ing around LoDo: long home runs leav­ing the yard and op­pos­ing pitch­ers tak­ing early show­ers.

“We are more of the team we saw tonight than what we’ve seen the past cou­ple weeks,” Colorado man­ager Bud Black said.

Are­nado turned a flat fast­ball from Chicago re­liever Chris Beck in the sixth in­ning with such seem­ing ease, you might never guess this team split a se­ries ear­lier in the week against the Cincin­nati Reds, the worst pitch­ing team in base­ball. Are­nado never blinked, his two-run shot fly­ing 450 feet to the up­per rows in left field. And his ca­sual dou­ble to left-cen­ter in the eighth scored two more, for five RBIs.

LeMahieu in the sec­ond golfed his own two-run homer against White Sox starter Derek Hol­land, two of the seven runs he al­lowed in just four in­nings. LeMahieu’s hit scored pitcher Ger­man Mar­quez, who lined his first ca­reer dou­ble two bat­ters prior.

Black­mon’s homer in the fourth was his 19th this sea­son, ty­ing Mark Reynolds for the club lead. Black­mon has more hits and more runs than any other player in base­ball.

So how did this team fall so far, so fast in two weeks? The Rock­ies slumped largely at the plate, hit­ting .226 over the stretch. In the past three weeks be­fore Fri­day, they av­er­aged fewer than four runs per game. They last scored at least seven runs on June 16, two days be­fore ev­ery­thing fell apart.

“You play your best base­ball, or all of us do our best work, when we’re loose and we’re poised and we’re calm,” Black said.

Fri­day night, the Rock­ies picked apart the White Sox and tip­toed out of the dredges. Their first six bat­ters reached base and four scored, on RBI sin­gles from Are­nado and Ger­ardo Parra and a two-run sin­gle to cen­ter from Trevor Story.

Parra, a vet­eran club­house cut-up, re­turned from the dis­abled list to post three hits, in­clud­ing a dou­ble.

“The big point is we won to­day,” Parra said. “We had good at-bats. I don’t want to talk about any­thing that hap­pened yes­ter­day or the day be­fore. We have to start to­day. We have to be ready for the sec­ond half.”

Mar­quez, a 22-year-old rookie who fin­ished 2-for-3 at the plate, cruised into the sev­enth in­ning on just six hits and a run al­lowed be­fore Tim An­der­son pinged him for a two-out, two-run homer to cen­ter. The righthander from Venezuela, though, gave up just three runs with five strike­outs and no walks. He sur­vived long enough to force Alen Hanson into an in­ning-end­ing ground­out on his 102nd pitch.

“I like the no walks,” Black said. “I re­ally like no walks from ev­ery pitcher.”

Mar­quez is just the sec­ond Colorado starter to last through seven in­nings in a vic­tory in more than a month, join­ing fel­low rookie Jeff Hoff­man, who did it Mon­day.

Black, in his first sea­son with the Rock­ies, won his 700th ca­reer game as a man­ager. Af­ter a fort­night of frus­tra­tion, ev­ery­thing fell into place for the Rock­ies to be­gin the fi­nal week­end be­fore the all-star break. A sum­mer is still ahead.

John Leyba, The Den­ver Post

Rock­ies all-star sec­ond base­man DJ LeMahieu hits his fourth home run of the sea­son, a two-run shot in the sec­ond in­ning of Fri­day night’s interleague se­ries opener against the Chicago White Sox at Coors Field. All-star cen­ter fielder Char­lie Black­mon and all-star third base­man Nolan Are­nado also home­red for the Rock­ies, who im­proved to 51-38.

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