DENVER (The Sports Xchange) – After becoming too reliant on his fastball and cutter, Tyler Chatwood used his four-pitch repertoire Sunday with great results.
The Colorado right-hander pitched brilliantly and home runs from Mark Reynolds, Pat Valaika and Charlie Blackmon enabled the Rockies to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-2 on Sunday.
The victory in the rubber game gave the Rockies (20-12) their seventh series win and a season-high 2 1/2-game lead in the National League West over the Diamondbacks.
Coming off losses in his past two starts, Chatwood (3-4) allowed two singles and one run in seven innings with three walks and five strikeouts.
Chatwood had allowed nine homers, all on fastballs, in 36 2/3 innings in his previous six starts. He got 11 outs on ground balls and just four outs on balls hit in the air.
“I think I (was) getting predictable, throwing fastballs in fastball counts, and that’s what I’ve been giving up homers on,” Chatwood said. “So today I was able to mix and slow them down with a curveball and a changeup. It was really big, kept them off-balance, I think.”
Chatwood instinctively reached for Daniel Descalso’s hard comebacker with his pitching hand to open the eighth. The ball deflected off Chatwood’s palm to Valaika, whose throw from third base was not in time to get Descalso.
Colorado manager Bud Black and head trainer Keith Dugger went to the mound. Chatwood threw one warm-up pitch, but Black said Chatwood, who had thrown 95 pitches, was on “a short leash” and turned to the bullpen.
Chatwood held the Padres hitless for five innings before yielding five runs and two homers while retiring one of five batters in the sixth.
“He’s got a true four-pitch mix that I think over the course of a major league season can be very effective,” Black said. “He’s got four quality pitches. Our talks were about incorporating all those pitches, and he did that today.”
Adam Ottavino, who relieved Chatwood, walked the first batter he faced and gave up Nick Ahmed’s run-scoring single. The Diamondbacks’ second run scored when Ottavino got pinch-hitter Brandon Drury to ground into a double play.
With one out in the second, Reynolds drove a 1-2 fastball from Taijuan Walker (3-2) an estimated 444 feet to center field for his 11th homer, three shy of his 2016 total in 441 plate appearances. He has homered in three straight games.
“My swing’s on time,” Reynolds said. “It’s (about) finding barrels and get it up in the air. It’s a good combo.”
The Rockies took advantage of a break in the sixth and scored three runs to go ahead 4-0.
Reynolds reached base with two outs when second baseman Chris Owings bobbled his grounder. Trevor Story followed with a fly to right field. David Peralta slipped, got up but lost the ball in the sun. Reynolds scored on the play, tagging the plate with his hand to get around catcher Chris Herrmann and Story ended up on second with a double.
“I saw Herrmann was all over the dish,” Reynolds said. “Nine times out of 10, if I slide feet first I’m out. Either my foot doesn’t touch the plate or I can’t get to the plate. The hand’s a lot easier to control than your foot to miss a tag, so that’s what I went with.”
Peralta said, “Somehow my foot got stuck and I fell down, and then by the time I was trying to get up and find the ball I got into the angle of the sun right there. I had my sunglasses on my head, but the sun wasn’t hitting right at me. But when I fell down and tried to look for the ball I looked straight to the sun.”
That hit finished Walker. J.J. Hoover came on and gave up a two-run homer to Valaika.
Blackmon belted his eighth homer with one out in the seventh, driving Hoover’s 3-1 slider an estimated 446 feet into the second deck in right field to make it 5-0.
Closer Greg Holland took the mound shortly after a rain delay of one hour, 22 minutes halted play after the eighth. Unfazed by the interruption, Holland threw nine pitches, all strikes, to retire Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb for his 13th save in as many chances.
“He knows how to pitch the ninth inning regardless of the situation, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of conditions,” Black said.
NOTES: Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez returned to the lineup after missing two games due to right calf tightness and went 0-for-4. … Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado was given a planned rest day after starting the first 31 games of the season. … Rockies RHP Jon Gray (left foot stress fracture) is scheduled to have a bone scan Monday. He has been on the 10-day disabled list since April 14 and is in a walking boot. … Diamondbacks 2B Chris Owings was in the lineup after being scratched Saturday due to illness and went 0-for-3. … Diamondbacks CF A.J. Pollock, 2B Chris Drury and LF Yasmany Tomas were given planned rest days. Pollock pinch-hit in the eighth and stayed in the game. Drury left after pinch hitting in the eighth.