DENVER (AP) - Colorado pitcher Alex White, sent in for a rare pinch-hitting appearance, kept the bat planted firmly on his shoulder - manager's orders.
With the Rockies' complement of bench players already used up, White was their only option when they loaded the bases with none out in the ninth inning.
Taking all the way, White worked the count full before going down on a called third strike. J.J. Putz then induced Ramon Hernandez to bounce into a game-ending double play to preserve the Arizona Diamondbacks' 9-7 victory Thursday.
``You know what? We almost caught a break there,' Rockies manager Jim Tracy. ``I'm not so sure that the 3-2 pitch wasn't ball four. (But) we're not going to let him hit into a double play and wipe the inning out.'
White, who has one hit in five at_bats this season, said he had a feeling he might get the call to pinch-hit because he knew the Rockies had already used up all their bench players in a series of double switches and pitching changes during a back-and forth game that included a three-run rally in the eighth by Colorado that tied the score at 7.
Justin Upton hit a two-run homer in the ninth for Arizona off closer Rafael Betancourt (1-1). Moments later, White batted for Betancourt and was given the take sign throughout.
Was he tempted to swing?
``Very,' White said.
``I was doing what I had to do to try to help the team, but obviously I wanted to swing there,' added White, the Rockies' scheduled starter Friday night against Seattle. ``Logically, though, that's not smart and I understand that. I just wish we could have pulled it out.'
Instead, it was the Diamondbacks who hung on as Hernandez bounced into a 5-4-3 double play with Putz picking up his seventh save in nine chances.
``That's just the way it was,' said Jason Giambi, who had a pinch-hit single during Colorado's tying rally in the eighth. ``We needed to do a little better job earlier in the game and we wouldn't have gotten in that situation. We had to get back in the ballgame. That's why we used so many hitters. Unfortunately, it was just a tough situation. I don't think anybody wanted to draw it up on the board like that.'
Brad Ziegler (2-1) retired the only batter he faced in the eighth for the victory.
Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts also drove in two runs apiece as the Diamondbacks won for the third time in 12 games.
The buzz surrounding this game included a swarm of bees that invaded the stadium, taking over a camera bay next to the Rockies' dugout in the fifth. They remained stuck to a railing until a beekeeper arrived an inning later to vacuum up the bees and relocate them.
Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer off starter Trevor Cahill, and Jordan Pacheco added a solo shot to help stake the Rockies to an early 4-1 lead.
It didn't last. Bloomquist sparked a four-run eighth with an RBI single off Rex Brothers. Jason Kubel, Paul Goldschmidt and Roberts also added run-scoring singles.
Rockies starter Juan Nicasio had a scare in the first inning when Bloomquist sent a liner straight at him. Nicasio turned his back just in time and was struck on the right thigh.
The play was eerily reminiscent of the line drive that hit Nicasio in the right temple last August, when he suffered a fractured skull along with a neck injury. Doctors had to perform emergency surgery to insert pins into the cracked C-1 vertebra and attach a small metal plate to the back of his neck.
Nicasio made a remarkable recovery to become one of the Rockies' most reliable pitchers this season.
Soon after Nicasio was hit, Tracy and trainer Keith Dugger popped out of the dugout to check on him. Nicasio threw a few warmup pitches to test his leg before motioning that he was all right.
But he appeared rattled and walked the next two batters. Nicasio worked his way out of the jam without any further damage but said after the game his thigh remained sore throughout the outing and affected his delivery.
``I couldn't stay back. It was sore a little bit,' Nicasio said. ``I couldn't push because it was hard. I couldn't push off. I was only throwing with my arm and my shoulder.'
He said, though, he didn't expect to miss any time.
``It will be all right,' said Nicasio, who gave up one run in 4 2-3 innings while striking out seven and walking five. ``I won't miss a start.'
NOTES: Cahill allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. ... Diamondbacks OF Chris Young (shoulder) hit a grand slam for Class-A Visalia on Wednesday. He will now move on to Triple-A Reno for his rehab assignment. ... The Diamondbacks kick off interleague play with a visit to Kansas City on Friday night. They are 9-3 at Kauffman Stadium. ... Rockies LHP Jorge De La Rosa (shoulder) was scheduled to start for Double-A Tulsa on Thursday night. ... The Rockies host Seattle on Friday night, with White (0-2) facing RHP Kevin Millwood (1-4), who spent last season with Colorado. ... The Rockies issued nine walks.
The Associated Press News Service
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