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Rockies Come Up Short In Extra-Inning Opener

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies
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DENVER (AP) — Matt Lindstrom’s wild pitch with one out in the top of the 11th inning allowed Gerardo Parra to score from third base, sending the Arizona Diamondbacks to a wild 7-6 win over the Colorado Rockies in their season opener Friday.

Parra singled off Matt Reynolds to start the 11th, and Lindstrom came in and struck out a pinch hitter before Willie Bloomquist singled to right, putting runners at the corners for Kelly Johnson, who was at the plate when Lindstrom threw the wild pitch.

Right-hander Sam Demel (1-0), the fifth Diamondbacks pitcher, worked one scoreless inning for the win, and righty J.J. Putz got the last three outs for his first save. Reynolds (0-1), who retired one of two batters he faced, took the loss.

These teams also went extra innings in their 2006 opener. Colorado won that one in 11 innings, 3-2.

The Diamondbacks were trotting off the field in the seventh after righty Juan Gutierrez struck out Ty Wigginton on a pitch in the dirt for the third out to seemingly preserve a 6-4 lead, but catcher Miguel Montero short-hopped the throw to first, allowing Carlos Gonzalez to score from second base.

Jose Lopez then beat out an infield single to third, scoring Todd Helton with the tying run, and it stayed that way until the 11th.

Before that seventh-inning flub, starter Ian Kennedy was in line for the win and Ubaldo Jimenez the loss.

The Rockies had a chance to take the lead in the eighth but third base coach Rich Dauer held Seth Smith at third on Gonzalez’s single into the right-center gap, and the throw bounced into the infield near second base. Aaron Heilman then struck out Troy Tulowitzki to end the threat.

Justin Upton and Montero went deep off an ineffective Jimenez, who didn’t have his usual nasty stuff and at times looked like he was pitching batting practice instead of blowing pitches past hitters like normal. Six of the seven hits he surrendered over six laborious innings went for extra bases.

After averaging 8.7 strikeouts per nine innings last year, Colorado’s ace whiffed just one batter.

His unusual futility finally caught up to him in the fifth, when Upton’s three-run homer put Arizona ahead 4-3. An inning later, Montero collected his fifth career hit — and third career homer — off Jimenez, sending a 2-1 pitch into the bullpen in right-center to give the D-Backs a 6-3 cushion.

Five of those six runs were earned, giving Jimenez, last year’s NL All-Star Game starter, a 7.50 ERA.

For a while it looked like Kennedy would be the one heading to an early shower.

He needed 50 pitches to make it through the first two innings but he settled in after falling behind 3-1 and ended up allowing three earned runs on six hits over six innings. He walked three and struck out three. He also threw two wild pitches among the 45 balls that were out of the strike zone.

Lopez, one of two newcomers in the Rockies’ starting lineup along with Wigginton, led off the bottom of the sixth with a no-doubt homer to left, and an inning later, he made a behind-the-back flip to Tulowitzki to start an inning-ending double play after robbing Upton of a single up the middle.

Kennedy labored through a 26-pitch first inning in which he surrendered a run-scoring double to Seth Smith and Helton’s sacrifice line drive to left field. He needed 25 pitches to get out of the second inning, when Chris Iannetta walked, reached second on an error, took third on a wild pitch and scored on Dexter Fowler’s single that made it 3-1.

Jimenez walked Kennedy in the fifth, then allowed a single to Bloomquist, who started at shortstop with Stephen Drew held out of the lineup as he recovers from a strained abdominal muscle. After Johnson flied out to center, Upton’s three-run shot put Arizona ahead.

A fan interference call helped the Diamondacks quash a rally in the bottom half of the fifth, when Gonzalez led off with a double. One out later, Helton lofted a foul ball down the left field line that Parra chased down. A fan reached over and bobbled the ball and third base umpire Bill Welke immediately signaled out No. 2.

Wigginton then flied out to end the inning to a chorus of boos from the sellout crowd as the fan was ejected.

Notes: The last time Jimenez struck out just one batter was on May 21, 2008, against San Francisco, when he whiffed one in seven innings of a no-decision. … Colorado RHP Aaron Cook (broken finger) made 50 throws at 100 feet Friday as he embarked on his comeback that is expected to last for weeks. … During pregame ceremonies, Gonzalez and Tulowitzki received their Gold Glove awards and their Silver Slugger awards. … Helton has a 12-game opening day hitting streak.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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