PITTSBURGH (The Sports Xchange) – The plane ride back to Denver probably seemed a bit shorter after the Colorado Rockies avoided a series sweep and broke a three-game losing streak by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-1 on Wednesday at PNC Park.
“They persevere,” Colorado manager Bud Black said of his club. “They stay at it. There’s sort of a quiet tenacity to our group.”
The Rockies managed to leave town still in a virtual tie for first place in the National League West thanks to five effective innings from rookie right-hander German Marquez, some clutch bullpen work and an Ian Desmond home run.
An unlikely source also provided a spark. Speedy rookie Raimel Tapia, who was 2-for-19 coming in, started in place of slumping outfielder Carlos Gonzalez and had four hits — two infield — and scored three runs.
Marquez (5-3), who threw 80 pitches in three innings against the Cubs on Friday in his previous start, needed 26 pitches to get through the first inning, but the Pirates failed to score.
He said he wasn’t having any flashbacks.
“I just knew I needed to maintain my aggressiveness and continue my plan of attacking the hitters,” he said.
Desmond led off the second with a solo home run off Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl and Marquez breezed through the next three innings on 28 pitches.
Kuhl (1-6) walked Desmond leading off the fifth and Tapia followed with an infield single. Trevor Story’s single made it 2-0. After a fielder’s choice put runners at first and third, first baseman Josh Bell misplayed Marquez’s bunt, which was ruled a sacrifice, and Tapia scored to make it 3-0.
“He got a good jump and Bell had to make a quick play and just bobbled it, because of (Tapia’s) speed,” Black said.
Andrew McCutchen singled with one out in the Pirates’ fifth. Marquez then hit Francisco Cervelli on the left shoulder.
Cervelli, in his first game after coming off the seven-day concussion disabled list, had some words with Marquez and catcher Tony Wolters, and within seconds both dugouts and bullpens emptied.
Cervelli said Wolters “started saying a lot of things and I didn’t like it. ”
Nothing came of the dust-up and the Pirates failed to score off Marquez even after the runners advanced on a wild pitch, when pinch-hitter Jose Osuna grounded out to end the threat.
“He hung in there,” Black said. “There’s a couple of big outs he had to get in the fifth inning.”
Adam Frazier doubled leading off the Pirates sixth and Josh Harrison singled to put runners on first and third. Left-hander Chris Rusin replaced Marquez and threw a double-play ball to Gregory Polanco on his first pitch. Frazier scored, but it could have been worse for the Rockies.
Pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista delivered an RBI single in the seventh for the fourth Rockies’ run. In the bottom of the inning, Cervelli singled with one out. Reliever Adam Ottavino hit Moroff in the leg, then walked David Freese to load the bases. Jake McGee came in for Ottavino. He got Frazier to fly out to short center field and struck out Harrison.
Pat Valaika added a sacrifice fly for Colorado in the ninth.
NOTES: Pirates RHP A.J. Schugel was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis to make room for Cervelli on the 25-man roster. … Colorado OF Carlos Gonzalez was 0-for-24 at the time of his benching. Gonzalez, a three-time All-Star, is hitting .215. Rockies manager Bud Black said Gonzalez also would not start Thursday at home against San Francisco. … Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen has hit safely in 16 of the 18 games he has played after dropping to sixth in the lineup, raising his average from .203 to .255.