PHOENIX (AP) - The Colorado Rockies jammed the bases with runners and got a halfway decent start from Jorge De La Rosa.
One pitch was all Arizona needed to send Colorado to a third loss in four games.
Unable to take advantage of a runner on third with one out in the eighth inning, the Rockies gave up a leadoff homer to Justin Upton in the bottom half on a 3-0 count in a 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks Tuesday night.
``They take one swing and score the runs, we had runners all over the place, basically from the seventh inning on, and we couldn't get the hit to open the game up,' Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
Colorado had David Hernandez (1-0) against the ropes in the eighth, with Todd Helton on third and one out, but couldn't score.
Helton was thrown out at home - after a rundown - trying to score on Jose Lopez's hard grounder to first and Hernandez escaped a bases-loaded jam by getting Chris Iannetta to pop out to end the inning.
Upton came up to lead off the bottom half and, after falling behind 3-0, lifted his sixth homer over the wall in right off Felipe Paulino (0-1).
``I was surprised that he swung,' Paulino said. ``You have to be sure to make sure to swing 3-0. Normally, if they swing on 3-0 they don't make a home run like that.'
Joe Saunders gave Arizona a decent start for the first time at home this season and Hernandez worked out of the tough spot in the eighth inning. Most of the offense came in the third, when Henry Blanco hit his first homer in nearly a year and Xavier Nady had a two-run single to prevent De La Rosa from becoming the NL's first five-game winner
All that set up Upton.
Since taking over as Arizona's manager last season, Kirk Gibson has repeatedly given his hitters the green light on 3-0 counts, hoping it'd make them comfortable whenever the situation arises.
Sometimes it's worked, a lot of times it hasn't.
Upton got it to work in a big way.
In a good power groove to start the season, Upton took his usual don't-do-too-much approach on a 3-0 count, using an inside-out swing against to lift the ball just over the wall in right. J.J. Putz followed by finishing off the ninth with his seventh successful save opportunity to open the season, giving the Diamondbacks their fifth win in eight games.
``I wasn't trying to do too much,' Upton said. ``Just make sure it's a strike and don't come out of your shoes, and I was able to get a good pitch to hit.'
De La Rosa had a strong previous outing, striking out nine while allowing a run in seven innings against the Cubs.
He had more trouble than that just in the third inning against the Diamondbacks.
Blanco led it off with his first hit in 11 at_bats this season, sending the left-hander's first pitch to the back of the lower level in left. It was his first homer since June 10 last season against San Diego, a span of 90 at_bats.
Saunders followed with his first hit in nine at_bats this season, a slap single to left, then De La Rosa struggled with the strike zone, walking two batters to load the bases. Nady capped the inning with a two-run single up the middle, putting the Diamondbacks up 3-1.
``I was making mistakes with most hitters and I paid for it,' said De La Rosa, who allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings.
Saunders just couldn't hold the lead.
The left-hander gave up his first run on Ryan Spilborghs' sacrifice fly in the second inning and followed Arizona's big inning by giving up a leadoff homer to Gonzalez, an estimated 453-foot shot that landed behind the pool in right-center. Jonathan Herrera tied it in the fifth with a run-scoring triple to the corner in right.
Saunders didn't give up anything else, though, leaving with the score tied after allowing three runs on six hits in six innings. He didn't get the win, but after going 0-2 with an 8.82 ERA in three previous starts at Chase Field, it was at least an improvement.
``I didn't feel like I had my best command or stuff, but we fought through it,' said Saunders, who ended an 0-for-18 streak over two seasons with his single in the third. ``Got through six and gave us a chance to win the game.'
Notes: The final out of Francisco Liriano's no-hitter for Minnesota was shown on the video screen before the start of the third inning, drawing a smattering of applause from the fans. ... Saunders has yet to get to the seventh inning in six starts this season. ... The Rockies have hit more home runs against left-handed pitchers (12) than any other NL team this season. Arizona is second with 11.
The Associated Press News Service
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