Long ball powers Rays past Rockies 12-4
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
DENVER – Troy Tulowitzki figured if he and the Colorado Rockies were going to lose for the first time in two weeks, they might as well lose big.
The Tampa Rays hit five homers among their franchise-record 11 extra-base hits and smashed Colorado’s 11-game winning streak 12-4 on Tuesday night.
“It’s not like we can say, ‘Oh, it was a close game. If we’d have gotten that clutch hit in the end,'” Tulowitzki reasoned. “They beat us up pretty good. Now, we just start over tomorrow.”
Colorado’s winning streak was tied with Boston for the longest in the majors this season and also tied for the longest in Rockies’ history, matching the mark set during their 21-1 run to the 2007 World Series.
Although they failed to make it an even dozen straight victories and climb back to .500, the Rockies have turned what was looking like a lost season into one in which they believe they’ll contend deep into the summer, at least for the wild card.
“I think we’ve grown more confidence to know we can compete,” Tulowitzki said. “But now the bar is set higher.”
The longest winning streak in the majors now belongs to the Rays at six games. They got home runs from Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena, Gabe Kapler, Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton.
Kapler, who tied his career high by driving in four runs, and Zobrist both finished a double shy of the cycle and Upton was a triple short.
Right-hander Jeff Niemann (6-4) benefited from the offensive outburst. Niemann (6-4) allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits and two walks in five innings in his first career start against the Rockies, who lost for the first time since June 3 at Houston.
“Boy, that was a fun win right there,” Zobrist said. “Our pitching pitched well and kept the distance there once we got ahead early and the bats just kept pouring on.”
Colorado is now 13-5 under manager Jim Tracy, who replaced Clint Hurdle after an 18-28 start.
Rays manager Joe Maddon said stemming Colorado’s winning ways had as much to do with the law of averages as it did with his long ball-laden lineup.
“I know they had been playing at a very high level. It’s hard to sustain that for a real long period of time,” Maddon said. “… They are very good. The way they were pitching is hard to sustain all of that forever.”
Aside from Jason Hammel’s start on Sunday being stunted to 5 1-3 innings by a tornado warning and a long rain delay, all of the Rockies’ starters had pitched into the seventh inning in June.
Not so Tuesday night. Jorge De La Rosa (2-7) was tagged for seven earned runs on eight hits in just 2 1-3 innings.
After giving up Longoria’s 15th home run in the first, De La Rosa allowed a two-run triple to Kapler after third baseman Ian Stewart let his foul ball drop to the grass. Kapler scored on Dioner Navarro’s single and Upton added a run-scoring double for 5-0 lead.
“We gave a hitter another pitch and we paid for it,” Tracy said. “He hit the double in the gap, and things started to flow their way big-time. It’s one extra pitch, and he blistered the ball in the gap.”
Kapler sent De La Rosa to the showers with his fourth homer, a shot to left field that made it 7-1 in the third.
Pena hit his 21st homer in the fifth off reliever Josh Fogg and Zobrist connected for his 14th home run two innings later off Randy Flores. Upton made it five long balls with a two-run shot, his fourth, off Matt Daley in the eighth.
Upton said the last thing the Rays expected coming to Coors Field was a blowout like this one.
“We came in here ready to play a tight ball game and scored a lot of runs early,” Upton said.
As for three players coming close to the cycle, Upton simply shrugged it off.
“There’s wasn’t anything unusual about it,” he said. “We got some good pitches to hit and didn’t miss many of them.”
NOTES: This was the first game since a loss at Houston on June 1 that the Rockies never led. … Hammel received his AL championship ring from the Rays on Tuesday, which he proudly showed off to teammates. “First of many, right?” he said.
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