Holliday's walk-off gives Rox victory
Slick plays on defense, including triple play, set up win
DENVER -- Searching for an edge against the National League's winningest team, the Rockies turned to their defense Sunday, making run-saving plays in clutch situations and making history with an unassisted triple play from rookie shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
Tulowitzki wrapped up a sizzling series against the Braves, finishing 4-for-13 with two homers, a triple, five RBIs, and a highlight-reel play every time he turned around at short.
He put the Rockies ahead in the bottom of the second with a two-run triple as part of a four-run rally, and he saved a run in the top of the third with a diving play behind the second-base bag, getting up to make the throw and end the inning, stranding a runner in scoring position.
But his unassisted triple play in the seventh inning -- the 13th in Major League history -- was the spark that fueled the Rockies for the remaining 4 1/2 innings en route to a 9-7, extra-inning, walk-off victory completed by Matt Holliday's two-run homer.
"We needed that win worse than a hog needs slop," manager Clint Hurdle said. "We got it. It took a lot of different people throwing some things out there and making things happen. An unassisted triple play, a couple big double plays, a big ninth-inning rally to tie it up. Denny Bautista gets the win late, shows up today, gets a win. A lot of good things happened for us today."
The Rockies held a 5-2 lead going into the sixth inning, behind a strong start from Aaron Cook. Cook had trouble in the sixth, however, giving up four hits and three runs in his final inning of work, leaving him with his fifth no-decision in six starts.
The Braves mounted a rally against reliever Zach McClellan in the seventh, getting a pair of leadoff singles from Kelly Johnson and Edgar Renteria to open the inning before Tulowitzki single-handedly closed the frame on a single play.
"It's amazing," Tulowitzki said once he'd had time to put the play in perspective. "It kind of just fell into my lap, but I'll take it."
Tulowitzki snared Chipper Jones' hard line drive in the air, stepped on second to double up Johnson, and tagged Renteria on his way from first to second.
"I enjoyed it," Hurdle said of the play, the first of its kind he has seen. "It came at a very critical time in the game -- big play for the Rockies."
Colorado flashed leather again in the eighth, with center fielder Willy Taveras and Tulowitzki combining on a relay to nail Andruw Jones at the plate as he tried to score the go-ahead run on Jeff Francoeur's double.
"It was definitely tougher than the triple play," Tulowitzki said. "To catch a throw and then to get a speedy runner out at home takes a lot more thinking and a lot more results than the triple play did."
Tulowitzki ended the day with seven putouts and seven assists, showing the often overlooked ability to jump-start a team with the glove.
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The Rockies finally let a ball slip through on a Brayan Pena grounder to third baseman Garrett Atkins, who was charged with an error, allowing Francoeur to score before Jamey Carroll, Tulowitzki and Todd Helton combined on a double play to end the inning. The unearned run broke the tie and snapped a nine-inning scoreless streak for Manny Corpas, whose ERA dropped to 0.66.
Colorado staged a dramatic rally in the bottom of the ninth, knocking out closer Bob Wickman with three walks, a bases-loaded, run-scoring single from Holliday, a game-tying groundout from Brad Hawpe, and a hit batsman before Clint Barmes lined to right, where a diving Francoeur robbed him of a potential game-winner.
The Rockies used their entire bullpen, picking up shutdown innings from McClellan in the seventh, Brian Fuentes in the 10th -- aided by a Helton-Tulowitzki double play -- and Bautista (1-0), who was promoted from Triple-A earlier in the day, pitching the 11th and earning the win.
The Rockies' celebration came in the bottom of the 11th as Helton drew his team-record fifth walk of the day and Holliday launched a Steve Colyer fastball over the right-center field fence for the walk-off homer.
"He throws hard," Holliday said of Colyer. "He threw Garrett a curveball to strike him out, so in the back of your mind you know that he might use one of his offspeed pitches, but you can't come off the fastball against a guy throwing that kind of heat."
As if the drama of the situation wasn't enough, the homer packed some punch of its own, registering at 426 feet, but Holliday still had to hold his breath as he watched Jones track it in center on a day the defense consistently upstaged the hitters.
"I was a little concerned," Holliday admitted. "Any time Andruw Jones is out there, two feet over the fence isn't far enough. At that point, you're just hoping it hits the wall and he can't catch it. I caught it pretty good, so I was hoping it would go."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.