Rox bounce back with decisive win
Early lead holds up as Colorado takes finale from San Diego
DENVER -- In a season in which the Rockies have hit new lows more often than they've hit opposing pitchers, Monday's 15-run, 22-hit loss at the hands of the Padres was the ultimate punch in the gut.
Colorado finally decided to punch back, beating San Diego for the second straight night at Coors Field on Wednesday, this time by a score of 8-1, to win its first series since sweeping Cleveland two weeks ago.
The bullpen imploded Monday night, surrendering nine runs in four innings, but the Rockies have given up just one run in the past two games.
"The pitching staff as a whole took it personally," manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's times when you need to tighten things up, establish some momentum and put your foot down."
Pitching on the heels of Aaron Cook's 79-pitch shutout on Tuesday, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez surrendered just one run in 6 1/3 innings to notch his third victory of the season.
"It's really hard to accomplish what he did," Jimenez said. "But I was trying."
Rather than rely too heavily on his breaking pitches, which often lead to control problems, Jimenez established his 94-mph fastball early in the game by pounding the inside of the plate. His only mistake came in the second, when he gave up a solo home run to Chase Headley.
"That's what you've got to do -- make sure we pound the zone with fastballs," said catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who hit a double and a home run. "That way, we've got those hitters looking for it. Then you start to mix it up. We did it so well today with Jimenez."
Jimenez improved to 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA at home, but he's 0-6 with a 6.96 ERA on the road. He lasted just four innings in Detroit on Friday after giving up four runs on nine hits.
"It's a mental thing for me," he said. "Here, I just try to go after hitters, and that's not the case when I'm on the road. I'm always trying to do too much, and I start falling behind in the count."
The Rockies, who were nearly no-hit by lefty Randy Wolf (5-8) when they faced him in April, sprung to an early lead on Wednesday to provide Jimenez with some breathing room.
Garrett Atkins hit an RBI single in the first inning and a three-run home run, his 11th of the season, in the second. Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run shot in the third inning to give the Rockies a 7-1 lead.
Atkins went 3-for-4, finishing a triple short of the cycle. Coming into Wednesday's game, Atkins led the Majors with a .450 average against left-handers and is now hitting .468 against them, 164 points higher than his overall average (.304).
"I've just had a good approach against [lefties] all year, staying up the middle and not trying to do a whole lot," Atkins said.
Debris littered the field in the fifth inning when gusts of wind up to 44 mph began swirling, but by then, the game was already in hand.
Almost inconceivably, the Rockies (34-51) are only eight games back of first place in the National League West after the Diamondbacks lost to the Brewers on Wednesday.
Can the Rockies really crawl back into it?
"Yes, realistically we can," Hurdle said. "In our division, we've been fortunate. That being said, we've got to go out there and play."
Jeff Birnbaum is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.