DENVER (AP) — Juan Nicasio allowed three singles over eight innings and Mark Ellis had three hits, including a two-run homer, in his Colorado debut as the Rockies beat the slumping Kansas City Royals 9-0 on Friday night.
Troy Tulowitzki connected on a two-run homer, Todd Helton added a two-run double and pinch-hitter Charlie Blackmon lined the first homer of his major league career — on his 25th birthday, no less — to help the Rockies snap a two-game slide.
Nicasio (3-1) struck out four and got the Royals to hit into 16 groundouts. With his pitch count at 111, the rookie righty was pulled in the ninth for reliever Edgmer Escalona, who was just called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday.
Nicasio improved to 3-0 at Coors Field, lowering his ERA to 2.08 at the hitter friendly park.
Only one Kansas City runner reached as far as second base and that wasn’t until two outs in the ninth.
Danny Duffy (1-3) couldn’t break the Royals out of their funk as the team dropped its fourth straight. Duffy lasted five innings, allowing five runs and nine hits. He struck out six.
The lefty had trouble locating his fastball, leaving pitches up to Ellis and Tulowitzki, who both laced homers.
Tulowitzki hit a towering two-run shot to right in the third to break open a 1-0 game. It was his 16th homer of the season, which is tops among all major league shortstops.
Ellis followed with a homer in the fifth, a liner to left that just crept over the wall.
It was simply that kind of game for Ellis. He finished 3 for 5 with a double, homer and three RBIs.
Ellis also played flawless second base, already developing quite a chemistry with Tulowitzki as the tandem turned a nifty double play early in the game.
The Rockies acquired Ellis, along with cash, from Oakland on Thursday for a minor league pitcher and a player to be named later.
They are banking on him to provide consistency at second base, something the team has sorely missed all season. They have trotted out Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, Eric Young Jr. and Jose Lopez, who’s since been let go.
Nelson and Young were optioned to Colorado Springs before the game.
Helton finished with three hits, including the 542nd double of his career. He’s tied with Hall of Famer Harry Heilmann for 25th place on all-time list.
Nicasio has been a pleasant surprise for the Rockies since being called up from Double-A Tulsa in late May. What was billed as an audition has pretty much turned into a permanent spot in the rotation.
With plenty of movement on all his pitches, Nicasio has been difficult for the opposition to hit this season. He also boasts a fastball that hovers around 94 mph.
The Rockies had to shuffle around their rotation after their top pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, experienced some tightness in his right forearm.
Chacin will have his scheduled start Saturday pushed back until Tuesday. To take his place, the Rockies will recall Greg Reynolds from Colorado Springs.
The 23-year-old Chacin is 8-5 with a 3.10 ERA. Rockies manager Jim Tracy doesn’t want to take any chances, especially in light of losing lefty Jorge De La Rosa with a season-ending elbow injury.
“We could ill afford to lose a guy like this,” Tracy said.
Notes: The Rockies rebounded from an 8-21 mark in May with a 14-13 record in June. … Tulowitzki has homered in consecutive games. … With a crowd of 48,282 on hand for baseball and fireworks, the Rockies had their fourth sellout of the season. … The Royals finished with four hits, getting one in the ninth off Escalona.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)