DENVER (The Sports Xchange) – Cameron Rupp and Maikel Franco hit massive home runs Sunday as the Philadelphia Phillies pounded the Colorado Rockies 10-3 to split their four-game series.
The teams reached the All-Star break with similar records but headed in different directions. The win was the 10th in 13 games for the Phillies, a surprising 42-48 after losing 99 games last year.
“I feel like even though we’re six under (.500), we’re at that point where we’re going to find out how much we’ve improved, how good we are or if it’s just a facade,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “I choose to believe we’re going to win a lot more games this second half than we did the first half.”
The loss was the ninth in 12 games for the Rockies, who after losing 94 games last season are 40-48, matching the furthest they have been below .500 this season.
Rupp and Franco had a playful tale-of-the-tape contest, vying for the longest homer of the season by a Phillies player. Rupp, who went 4-for-5, had a career-high four hits and a career-high tying four RBIs. He had singles on each of his first three at-bats, driving in runs in the third when the Phillies scored three two-out runs to go ahead 3-1 and fifth. After beleaguered reliever Jake McGee came on and walked Cody Asche, Rupp drove McGee’s 0-2 fastball an estimated 465 feet for a two-run homer in the seventh that gave the Phillies a 6-2 lead.
“Don’t come off the fastball, that’s my approach,” Rupp said. “And if he leaves the pitch out over the plate I got to attack and get it. And he gave me a fastball to hit, and I got him.”
Franco hit a three-run homer in the eighth when the Phillies scored four runs and blew the game open. He drove a 3-0 pitch from Jason Motte, another stuggling Rockies reliever, an estimated 471 feet to left field.
“I know 3-0 count, I have to be ready for my pitch, and a hundred percent, I know he want to give me the fastball in that count,” Franco said. “And I’ll be ready for it and I put a good contact on it.”
Rupp held the record for the Phillies’ longest homer of the year…for one inning.
“They all count the same,” a smiling Rupp said. “They were both good ones.”
Zach Eflin (2-2), who threw a complete game Tuesday against Atlanta for his first career win, held the Rockies to two runs and seven hits in six innings. Eflin threw 12 balls in the first inning when he issued his only two walks and just 15 balls over his final five innings.
“As soon as I got out of the inning I told myself it was unacceptable,” said Eflin, who had issued four walks in 29 1/3 innings in his first five career starts. “I don’t really walk guys and I walked two in the same inning. Something wasn’t right in that first inning, but I was able to bounce back and keep the ball down and keep the guys guessing.”
Rockies starter Tyler Chatwood (8-5) labored through five innings, throwing 93 pitches as he allowed four runs on eight hits and three walks with two strikeouts. This was his second start since coming off the disabled list after a mid-back strain forced him out of a June 18 start.
“I don’t think I’ve pitched very well since I hurt my back,” Chatwood said. “I haven’t found my rhythm again. That’s not an excuse. I just haven’t pitched good.”
Neither have McGee or Motte, veterans who were acquired in the offseason to strengthen the back end of the Rockies’ bullpen.
McGee blew a save and took the loss Friday when he gave up pinch-hitter Tommy Joseph’s go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh as the Phillies won 5-3. In 25 innings this season, McGee has yielded five home runs and has a 6.12 ERA in 29 appearances.
Motte, whose ERA rose to 4.76, has surrendered five homers in 17 innings in his 21 appearances.
“We’ve got to get those guys right,” Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. “Hopefully, this break here will be a little bit of a reprieve, and we’ll come back strong after the break. We’ve got to get some things ironed out back there.”
NOTES: Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez hit a 462-foot homer in the eighth for the Rockies final run. It was the first homer to reach the third deck in right field since Joc Pederson of the Los Angeles Dodgers did it with a 480-foot shot on June 2, 2015…The Rockies’ rotation coming out of the All-Star break will be LHP Jorge De La Rosa, RHP Chad Bettis and RHP Jon Gray at Atlanta next weekend followed by LHP Tyler Anderson and RHP Tyler Chatwood in the first two games against Tampa Bay on July 18-19. … The Phillies’ rotation in the second half will be RHP Jeremy Hellickson, RHP Jerad Eickhoff and RHP Zach Eflin against the New York Mets next weekend with RHP Aaron Nola and RHP Vince Velasquez starting the first two games against Miami on July 18-19. … Phillies LHP Daniel Stumpf was reinstated from the restricted list after serving an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test. RHP Severino Gonzalez was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley and LHP Mario Hollands was designated for assignment to make room for Stumpf on the 40-man roster. … Rockies LHP Chris Rusin (left shoulder inflammation) threw 30 pitches in a simulated game. One of the hitters was LF Gerardo Parra (high-ankle sprain), who faced live pitching for the first time since he was injured on June 14.