Rox complete sweep of Yankees
Starter Lopez keeps familiar faces from the Bronx at bay
DENVER -- The brooms were out, and most of the 48,611 chanted "Sweep!" as Brian Fuentes pitched to Andy Phillips with two outs in the ninth inning and a one-run lead at sold-out Coors Field on Thursday afternoon.Fuentes and the Rockies delivered on their fans' demand with a strikeout of Phillips and a 4-3 victory, completing their first sweep at home this season. The Yanks were winners of 11-of-12 and arrived in Denver the hottest team in baseball, only to turn that title over to the team that beat them. "Sweeping a team, especially at home, is a great feeling," Thursday's winning starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez said. "To sweep the Yankees, with all the mystique, all the players they have on the team, I think it's a statement for us, the way we play." The way the Rockies have played as of late -- winners of 7-of-8, winners of six straight series, the best record in June and a Major League-best 20-7 since May 22 -- has them 3 1/2 games back of the division lead. They were once eight games back this season. "It's June," Matt Holliday said. "I think we're playing well. If we continue to play like this, come September, we'll be playing important games." This one might have been a day game at home in June, but it was the Rockies' first sweep at home and only the second sweep of the season. They got the sweep by holding the Yanks to five runs in three games. "They outplayed us in these three games," Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon said. "Those guys out-pitched us, they out-hit us. They play the game right." Lopez (4-0) completed a trio of quality starts by the Rox starters this week. The veteran righty pitched 5 2/3 innings and held the Yanks to two runs before leaving the game with runners on the corners and two outs. Jorge Julio struck out Hideki Matsui and the Rockies got out of an inning in which the Yanks could have taken the lead. Derek Jeter led off the sixth with a double and with one out, Alex Rodriguez grounded to shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Jeter ran on the play and was thrown out at third. "Jeter is a smart baseball player, a great baserunner," Tulowitzki said. "I'm starting to think maybe he didn't think I had the guts to throw it to third. 'I'm going to run right in front of your face and you're not going to throw it.' But I like to take chances out there. I'd rather have a guy on first than a guy on third. It betters our chance to win." Jorge Posada followed with a single that would have scored Jeter without the base-running blunder.
"There's no excuse, that's the bottom line," Jeter said. "You're trying to be aggressive. We've been scuffling scoring runs, but in that situation, the ball is right in front of you. There's no excuse."As they did in both the first two games, the Yankees were the first to strike when Matsui hit a two-run homer in the second inning. The Rockies tied it with two homers in the bottom of the inning by Garrett Atkins and Tulowitzki off Roger Clemens (1-2).
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Matt Holliday, who had struck out twice against Clemens, knocked the 44-year-old out of the game and gave the Rockies a 3-2 lead with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Holliday then scored on an Atkins sacrifice fly.The Rockies finished the homestand 5-1 and head to Toronto Friday for the start of a 10-day, 10-game road trip. After the game, there were no brooms in the clubhouse and the Rockies downplayed the significance of a sweep of the Yankees. "Like I said, it's just three games," Holliday said. "We don't gain any more value for sweeping the Yankees than we do beating the Devil Rays or the Royals. There's no more value to it other than it was a lot of fun."
C.J. Moore is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.