STORY’S HOME RUN BOLSTERS HIS RE­CENT SURGE

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - — Nick Groke, The Den­ver Post

A loud out can be a pushy mo­ti­va­tor. Af­ter Trevor Story ripped a line drive to the left side in the fourth in­ning Sun­day, only to have it swept up by Pitts­burgh Pi­rates short­stop Jordy Mercer, the Rock­ies’ sec­ond-year slug­ger grew ea­ger.

“It’s not al­ways fun when you get hits taken away from you,” Story said. “But it kind of gives you a boost for the next at-bat. And it was a good at-bat, the next one.”

Two in­nings later, Story blasted an­other hit in the same direc­tion, only higher and far­ther. His tworun shot into the left-field bleachers was, at 420 feet, the Rock­ies’ long­est home run in a fourth in­ning filled with them. In an in­ning that sent 11 Rock­ies to the plate for three homers and seven runs, Story’s homer brought the big­gest sign of en­cour­age­ment.

Ex­clud­ing a four-strike­out game Tues­day, Story is climb­ing back to­ward his form from a break­out rookie year. In nine games since the all-star break, Story is 10-for30 with two home runs, 11 RBIs and eight runs scored. His bat­ting av­er­age has climbed 15 points in that span, to .237.

“I’m kind of back to where I nor­mally feel in the box. And I’m con­fi­dent. It’s good to have that feel­ing again,” Story said. “I’m not swing­ing at pitches I shouldn’t. That’s big for me. And I haven’t re­ally been miss­ing the ones I want to hit.”

Story, hit­ting sev­enth in man­ager Bud Black’s lineup, has been joined in a turn­around by vet­eran right fielder Car­los Gon­za­lez, who hit sixth Sun­day. Gon­za­lez hit half­way to a cy­cle in the sixth in­ning alone, with a sin­gle and a dou­ble, rais­ing his av­er­age to .226.

In Gon­za­lez’s seven games since the break, he is 7-for-24 (.292) with three dou­bles, in­clud­ing a shift-busting liner down the left-field line Sun­day. His two-hit sixth was just the fourth mul­ti­hit in­ning of his ca­reer.

“I’ll tell you, CarGo and Story have come on and it’s such a huge boost to our of­fense,” first base­man Mark Reynolds said. “Where they’re hit­ting in the lineup and the po­ten­tial they have, it makes our lineup so much longer. Those guys driv­ing in runs, hit­ting homers, is huge for us to keep pounding away.”

Free­land rolling. Af­ter the Rock­ies routed the Pi­rates 13-3, match­ing a club record with 74 runs in seven games set in 2000, Black, ever the pitcher, looked to­ward the mound.

“It’s im­por­tant to keep pitch­ing and give us a chance to win from the pitch­ing side,” the man­ager said.

That in­cluded rookie left­hander Kyle Free­land, who pitched six solid in­nings while al­low­ing just two runs.

It was Free­land’s 12th qual­ity start (at least six in­nings and no more than three runs al­lowed), the most in the ma­jors among rook­ies. He im­proved his record to 10-7, join­ing rookie righthander An­to­nio Sen­za­tela (10-3) with dou­ble-digit vic­to­ries.

Free­land and Sen­za­tela are just the sec­ond pair of Colorado rook­ies to reach 10 wins. Jason Jennings (16-8) and Denny Stark (11-4) did it in 2002.

Black­mon update. Charlie Black­mon’s homer to left field in the fifth in­ning was his clublead­ing 24th this sea­son — and was his 800th ca­reer hit.

When Black­mon hits for power, the left-han­der usu­ally pulls the ball to right field. His home run to left was just his sec­ond in that direc­tion in his seven-year ca­reer.

“It didn’t feel weird. I should try that more of­ten,” Black­mon said. “The pitch was out and away. Maybe I was a lit­tle late. I told the guys in the dugout, ‘It was just a late bar­rel, got lucky.’ I’m not try­ing to hit homers the other way. I’m try­ing to pull them.”

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