DENVER (AP) — Micah Owings pitched five effective innings for his first win in more than a year and Miguel Montero hit a three-run homer, helping the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the slumping Colorado Rockies 6-3 on Thursday night.
Owings (1-0) bottled up the Rockies’ struggling offense, allowing just four hits and striking out three. The only run he surrendered was an RBI single by Troy Tulowitzki in the fourth.
The right-hander earned his first win since last May, when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds. This was Owings’ second start of the season for the Diamondbacks in his second stint back with the squad.
Montero staked Owings to an early lead, lining a belt-high pitch over the right-field fence in the fourth after Clayton Mortensen (1-2) walked the first two batters of the inning. It was Montero’s first homer since April 28.
Kelly Johnson added a two-run homer off Rockies closer Huston Street in the ninth to give Arizona a three-run lead.
The rolling Diamondbacks have won nine of their last 10 to creep even closer to San Francisco in the NL West. Arizona trails the Giants by 1 1/2 games, the closest the team has been since early April.
Colorado rallied for two runs against Arizona reliever Esmerling Vasquez in the seventh as pinch hitter Jason Giambi had an RBI sacrifice fly and Ryan Spilborghs followed with a run-scoring single. But with two on, Jonathan Herrera grounded out to end the threat.
David Hernandez pitched the final five outs for his first save of the year, giving regular closer J.J. Putz the night off. Putz has saved a franchise-record 14 straight to start the season.
Melvin Mora added an RBI single in the sixth and Chris Young scored twice as the Diamondbacks took three of four from Colorado in the series.
With Jorge De La Rosa sidelined after suffering a season-ending elbow injury Tuesday, Mortensen has suddenly gone from a fill-in starter to all but sewing up a spot in the rotation, especially given his recent string of solid outings.
After being so effective in his opening three starts, though, Mortensen hit a bump against Arizona, giving up four runs and five hits in six innings.
The right-handed rookie hardly has overpowering stuff with his fastball hovering around 87 mph, but possesses pinpoint control — at least typically.
Mortensen wiggled out of an early jam, but couldn’t get out of the mess he created for himself in the fourth by walking Stephen Drew and Young to start the inning, then falling behind on Montero, who promptly hit his fifth homer of the year.
Tulowitzki was back in his customary cleanup spot Thursday after receiving his first day off of the season. The smooth-fielding shortstop has been trying the shoulder the load for an offense that’s turned stagnant.
And that’s led him into a funk, hitting under .200 in May. Tulowitzki finished 1 for 4 on Thursday.
The Rockies have lost seven of nine to drop below .500 for the first time since opening day.
Before the game, the Rockies learned that a 27-year-old fan died due to injuries he sustained when he fell about 20 feet and struck his head on concrete during the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game at Coors Field.
“It’s a sad thing,” Giambi said before heading out to batting practice Thursday. “It’s supposed to be uplifting and an enjoyment for the fans. That’s a terrible thing to hear.”
Notes: Rockies RHP Esmil Rogers (strained back muscle) threw 60 pitches in a bullpen session Wednesday and will head to Arizona for extended work next week. Rogers has been eligible to come off the DL since May 16. … The Rockies traded RHP Felipe Paulino to Kansas City on Thursday night for cash considerations. Paulino was designated for assignment by the Rockies last Saturday. … Speedy OF Dexter Fowler was moved from leadoff spot to No. 8. … Diamondbacks MGR Kirk Gibson said an MRI on RHP Juan Gutierrez’s shoulder revealed “no significant rotator cuff tears.” Gutierrez went on the DL on Wednesday.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)