Nationals overcome rough start, beat Rockies 9-4 |

Nationals overcome rough start, beat Rockies 9-4

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
Washington Nationals' Emilio Bonifacio, front, claps as he scores on a throwing error by Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Aaron Cook, back, in the third inning of a baseball game in Denver on Monday, Aug. 4, 2008. Two runners scored on the play, which started with a bunt by Willie Harris. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

DENVER ” Tim Redding had a feeling that if he kept the Nationals close, they’d find a way to win. He was right.

Redding settled down after a rough start and Washington rallied from an early three-run deficit to beat the Colorado Rockies 9-4 on Monday night, the fourth straight win for the Nationals.

Redding (8-6) gave up three runs in the first before settling down and getting his first win in nearly a month. Redding had lost four straight starts since beating Houston 10-0 on July 10.

“After the first inning, and after the way we had been playing the last weekend, I knew if I kept the game relatively close we would come back and win,” Redding said.

That’s a strong statement, given the Nationals were facing Rockies ace Aaron Cook, who was looking to move into a tie for the major league lead with his 15th win.

It didn’t happen.

Cook (14-7) gave up seven runs ” four earned ” in 5 2-3 innings and lost for the first time since July 6. It was just the third time in 24 starts this season he has failed to pitch at least six innings.

“I knew I was going to have to get through the game without my best stuff,” said Cook, who is 5-2 since July 1.

Willie Harris homered and had three RBIs for the Nationals, who had lost nine in a row prior to their current streak.

“We are playing better defense and have played four clean games so far,” Nationals manager Manny Acta said.

It was a disappointing start to a key homestand for the Rockies, who play seven games against the Nationals and San Diego Padres ” the teams with the two worst records in the NL ” before hosting first-place Arizona. The Rockies began the day seven games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

“We got outplayed and out-hit,” said Rockies manager Clint Hurdle, whose team was coming off of a 6-4 road trip. “There are two kinds of people in this game ” those that are humble and those that are about to be humbled.”

Trailing 3-1, the Nationals got to Colorado’s ace in the third. Redding and Emilio Bonifacio singled, and Cook threw the ball into left field trying to force out Redding at third on Harris’ bunt, allowing both runners to score.

“I should have thrown it into the stands; it would have only cost us one run,” Cook said. “If I didn’t throw that ball down the left-field line we would have been in the game.”

Washington took a 5-3 lead on a throwing error by Troy Tulowitzki later in the inning.

“We made them pay for the two errors,” Harris said.

The Nationals added two more in the sixth on a triple by Bonifacio and a single by Harris, chasing Cook.

Redding left after giving up a single and a walk to start the Rockies’ sixth. Reliever Saul Rivera got out of the jam after Garrett Atkins scored on a groundout to make it 7-4.

“He kept the ball out of the middle of the plate after the first inning,” Hurdle said of Redding.

Harris hit a two-run homer in the eighth, his ninth of the year, to give Washington a five-run lead.

The Rockies looked like they would run away with the game in the first inning. Clint Barmes led off with a single, Tulowitzki walked and Matt Holliday doubled in a run. Brad Hawpe followed with a two-run single to right to make it 3-0.

Jesus Flores cut the lead to 3-1 with a one-out home run in the second, his eighth of the season.

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