The Colorado Rockies couldn't come through with an opening-day win a week ago at Coors Field. They've played practically flawless baseball ever since.
A day after spoiling Pittsburgh's home opener, the Rockies hand the ball to Jorge De La Rosa looking to extend their winning streak to five Friday night when they continue a four-game set with the Pirates.
Ubaldo Jimenez struggled with a cracked cuticle on his pitching thumb in Colorado's home opener last Friday, and the ace was far from his dominant self as the Rockies fell 7-6 in 11 innings to Arizona.
Colorado (4-1) has had nothing short of spectacular pitching after that. The Rockies' next four starters have posted a 1.82 ERA and all picked up wins, with Esmil Rogers the latest to shine by holding Pittsburgh to a run over 7 1-3 innings Thursday in a 7-1 victory at PNC Park.
"I don't know if you can pitch much better,' manager Jim Tracy said. "He did a tremendous job of keeping their entire lineup off-balance.'
De La Rosa (1-0, 0.00 ERA) was excellent in his first start, even it didn't last as long as he would have liked. The left-hander pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings Saturday against the Diamondbacks, but left after a blister developed on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
That's the same finger in which he tore a tendon that cost him two months last season, so the Rockies were extra cautious. It was popped and bandaged quickly, and unlike Jimenez, De La Rosa won't miss any time.
That's certainly pleasing news to Tracy.
"De La Rosa while he was out there (Saturday) was phenomenal,' he told the Rockies' official website. "A devastating changeup, and I was very pleased with the way he stayed ahead of hitters."
The Pirates (4-3) held leads of at least two runs in each of their first six games, but were never ahead Thursday. Neil Walker's error in top of the first led to two runs, and though he and Jose Tabata led off the bottom of the inning with hits, Pittsburgh only had two more the rest of the way.
"It's just one game,' said center fielder Andrew McCutchen. "You feel like you owe it to the fans to win on opening day.'
McCutchen is 3 for 10 and Walker 3 for 6 against De La Rosa, who went 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts versus Pittsburgh last season.
One of those came against Ross Ohlendorf (0-0, 6.00), who held Colorado to one earned run over six innings Aug. 7 at PNC Park. He was in line for a victory until Joel Hanrahan gave up a tying three-run homer to Ian Stewart in the ninth, though Pittsburgh wound up winning 8-7 in 10 innings.
The right-hander gave up eight hits, four walks and four runs over six innings Sunday at Wrigley Field, but this time the Pirates rallied in the ninth, taking him off the hook with a 5-4 win.
After watching Ohlendorf go 0-5 with a 9.82 ERA in spring training, manager Clint Hurdle wasn't too dismayed with his pitcher's performance.
"That was the best I've ever seen him throw," he jokingly told the Pirates' official website.
Carlos Gonzalez is 4 for 9 with a homer against Ohlendorf and Troy Tulowitzki 3 for 9 with two homers.
Ohlendorf isn't the only Pirates pitcher to struggle with Tulowitzki, though. Colorado's shortstop is a .481 lifetime hitter in Pittsburgh, hitting safely in all 14 games.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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