Rookie Matzek leads Rockies past Pirates
DENVER -- Rookie Tyler Matzek once again kept the Colorado Rockies in the game. But on Saturday night, he came away with a more tangible satisfaction -- a victory.
The Rockies pounded the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-1 for the second straight game as Matzek, making his ninth career start, matched his career high with seven innings. He held the Pirates to three hits.
Matzek and Pirates starter Jeff Locke matched up for the second consecutive time, having faced each other one week ago at Pittsburgh in a game the Pirates won, 5-3. In that game, neither pitcher factored in the decision.
The left-handed Matzek had good command of his fastball, but said he "didn't have the feel for his slider as much." His strategy was to throw strikes early and often and let his defense do the work.
The Rockies' 3-5 record since the All-Star break is not the fault of their starters. Since the break, the starters have compiled a 2.29 ERA in 51 innings pitched. They've allowed only 13 earned runs.
"Typically it comes down to command," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "You get strike one, you get into good counts and you're able to use your finishing pitches to put hitters away. Our starters have commanded the game since the break."
Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado, who was lifted from Friday night's game after not running hard on a grounder in the fourth inning, went 3-for-4 with a home run.
"Today was a good day," Arenado said. "I was able to make my plays, get a couple of knocks and help the team win, because (Friday) I showed I wasn't a team player. I'm happy I was able to help them out."
Arenado hit his eighth homer in the seventh inning, and two batters later, Corey Dickerson belted his 13th homer on the 115th and final pitch from Locke (2-2).
"It gets in my head when you face a team you don't see a lot during the season, but somehow you face them twice in a row," said Locke, who allowed a season-high 10 hits, including three homers and six runs. "You almost try to play a little cat-and-mouse game, 'What do I need to do?' I got some balls up tonight. They put some good swings on them."
Colorado second baseman Josh Rutledge went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, giving him seven RBIs in the past two games.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Arenado and Dickerson finished off Locke, who also gave up a solo homer in fourth to Drew Stubbs, his 11th of the season. Stubbs rolled his left ankle on his home-run swing and left the game and was replaced by Dickerson.
"It was an inside fastball, and usually your front foot will clear a little bit," Stubbs said. "I guess one of my spikes caught, and my foot rolled over a little bit. I had to grit my teeth to get around the bases. I think what I've got is a mild foot sprain, not too serious, but pretty uncomfortable."
The Pirates avoided being shutout when pinch hitter Ike Davis homered off Brooks Brown in the ninth. They also scored in the ninth Friday to avoid a shutout. The Pirates have just nine hits in the first two games of the series.
"I've probably watched over 730 games here," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, formerly the Rockies' manager and hitting coach. "I've seen it all. The game demands execution, and right now that hasn't been a part of what we've been able to do here the last two nights with any consistency."
NOTES: Rockies RF Carlos Gonzalez was scratched from the lineup due to a swollen right ankle. He rolled the ankle at home before arriving at Coors Field. ... Rockies C Wilin Rosario made his sixth career start -- second this season -- at first base. Manager Walt Weiss wanted to get Rosario's right-handed bat in the lineup against Pirates LHP Jeff Locke. ... Rockies LHP Boone Logan (diverticulitis) might face hitters for the first time Sunday, when he's eligible to come off the disabled list. ... Rockies RHP Christian Bergman (broken left hand) is scheduled to make his first rehab start for Double-A Tulsa on Tuesday. ... Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said RHP Gerrit Cole (right lat strain), who is scheduled to make his first rehab start Monday for Triple-A Indianapolis and throw about 80 pitches, will make a second rehab start to get his pitch count up to 100. ... 3B Pedro Alvarez, who pinch-hit Friday night, was not in the Pirates' lineup for the third straight day, and RF Gregory Polanco batted seventh for the first time rather than his customary leadoff spot as the Pirates went against Colorado LHP Tyler Matzek. Alvarez is hitting .186 (13-for-70) and Polanco is hitting .125 (6-for-48) vs. left-handers this season.