Rockies break out, topple Dodgers
Barmes, Spilborghs hit two-run homers; Marquis now 3-1
DENVER -- Call it the tweak that saved a series. Rockies manager Clint Hurdle made some adjustments to his lineup for Sunday's series finale with the Dodgers, looking for a spark that could help his team find a way to beat L.A. for the first time in six tries this season.
The spark came with a Clint Barmes homer into the left-field seats in the bottom of the third, a two-run round-tripper that ignited a 10-4 victory for the Rockies, who erupted for four runs in the inning and matched a season high with five runs in the fifth frame.
The Rockies found production in every spot in the revamped lineup, with each of their starting nine reaching base by hit or walk.
"That's what we've been looking for," Hurdle said. "We needed one of these where everybody threw something in. I was really encouraged by the way it didn't start the way you want. We stayed after it. Nobody backed off. It was a good team win."
Chris Iannetta walked before Barmes' blast, and Troy Tulowitzki, making his first start of the season in the two-hole, took a walk later in the inning to set up a two-run shot by Ryan Spilborghs, his first of the season.
The homer was Barmes' second of the series and his third of the season, giving him a share of the team lead with Garrett Atkins, Tulowitzki and Ian Stewart.
"I wouldn't say I'm in a zone, but I feel comfortable for the most part," Barmes said. "For the most part, it's at-bat to at-bat right now. For me, it's just being relaxed and trusting my hands and knowing I can get to a pitch like that without my body coming into play. That's something I've battled by whole life. I'm relaxed, and that's what I battle. I'll do that for as long as I can do it."
It's rare to have a large enough lead to relax in Coors Field, but by the time the Rockies made it 9-0, there was a looseness spreading through the lineup. The five-run fifth was all on Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw's line as the lefty gave up one-out singles to Rockies starting pitcher Jason Marquis and rookie center fielder Dexter Fowler then yielded a two-out, run-scoring single to Spilborghs.
Kershaw intentionally walked Atkins to load the bases after a wild pitch put runners on second and third, and he walked in a run with Brad Hawpe at the plate, earning his early exit.
Jeff Baker, the first man up against southpaw reliever Scott Elbert, gave the Rockies plenty of breathing room when he drilled a bases-loaded triple just over the reach of Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, who initially broke in on the ball before turning back and coming up short as he tried to track down the fly.
The Rockies added a final run in the sixth when Barmes singled up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice from Marquis before Fowler knocked his third hit of the game, a single to right that drove Barmes home.
The biggest performance of the day came from Marquis (3-1), whose quality start stopped a three-game losing streak for the second time this season. Marquis held the Dodgers scoreless through five before finally yielding a pair in the sixth on a leadoff single up the middle from Juan Pierre and a walk to Orlando Hudson followed by a double to right from James Loney.
Marquis has not only been the club's most consistent starter this season, he has been the club's fiercest competitor. Hurdle hopes to see his relentless passion for the game rub off on the rest of the starting staff.
"I like [Marquis] out there late," Hurdle said. "I like the other starting pitchers watching him work the seventh inning, watching him work in the eighth inning. That's what we need. And watching him compete and trying to finish and give us as much length as he can. He thrives on the competition. That can be infectious, and we need it to be infectious. Hopefully, we can feed off that, the starting rotation."
Marquis' efficient approach was well-received by the men behind him. He got nine ground balls for 10 outs, taking advantage of a strong sinker that plays well in Coors Field, where he is now 5-0 in his career.
"As one of the middle infielders, it's nice to have a guy like that out on the mound," Barmes said. "He's going to get some ground balls and keep the ball down. He's thrown very well for us from the beginning of the season. He's definitely what we need at this point. Hopefully, we can get something rolling from that."
The Rockies are at something of a tipping point as they head into the final week of April five games under .500. They've lost four games by one run and believe they are a break away from getting their season in gear. Marquis, who pitched the club's longest outing of the year, bunted, scored a run and went 1-for-2 to preserve a .500 average through four starts, may be uniquely positioned to give the team the spark that Hurdle started the day looking for.
"I've always been a battler, since I was 10, 11, 12 years old," Marquis said. "That's the approach I take. Nothing comes easy in this game. If you think it does, then you should change your mind-set, because it's work out there.
"It's definitely a great feeling, putting some wins on the board for the team," he added. "We have a plethora of talent in here. Guys that have struggled early on, they're going to right their ship and this team's going to play the way it's supposed to be. Treat each game as just as important, and just try to win. I'm about winning. That's what it comes down to."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.