Red-hot Rockies slug their way to win
Four homers help Colorado to victory despite 'pen trouble
OAKLAND -- A night after winning despite a light offense, Brad Hawpe and the Rockies returned to their power game in Saturday night's 11-9 victory over the Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Hawpe's second-deck, two-run shot in the first inning -- the 100th home run of his career -- was the first of four long balls off Athletics starter Trevor Cahill (5-6) in the first four innings. Ian Stewart, Clint Barmes and Seth Smith added solo shots as the Rockies built leads of 7-2 through four innings and 11-2 through six.
Friday's three-game series opener saw the Rockies win, 4-2, even though just three players in the lineup had hits, and the team's eight-game streak with at least one homer ended.
"Everybody's having really good at-bats," said Hawpe, who has 12 home runs and a .336 average as he continues to make it tough to leave him off the National League squad for the All-Star Game. "Nobody's giving at-bats away. They're trying to take advantage of every opportunity they get in the batter's box. It adds up to a very good offense."
The downside of the Rockies' 19th victory in 22 games was a shaky bullpen effort that made it necessary for Huston Street to enter with no outs in the Athletics' four-run ninth and earn his 18th save.
But that's for later. There were two many positives, beyond the team tying its season-high for home runs in a game.
Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (4-7) improved to 4-1 in June by holding the Athletics to two runs in six innings. His biggest problem might have been the long breaks while the Rockies built their lead. Nonetheless, he struck out five and gave up five hits and two walks.
The Rockies are looking for De La Rosa to turn hot the way he did last year, when he went 7-3 with a 3.08 ERA after the All-Star break. The current run had a 2 1/3-inning, seven run meltdown against the Rays two starts ago, so he believes he's just getting started.
"It's only two games," De La Rosa said. "I have to keep pitching like I pitched today and we'll see what happens."
Also, Carlos Gonzalez, the main prospect in the deal that sent outfield star Matt Holliday to the Athletics, tripled and scored in the fourth, singled and scored in the top of the sixth and threw out Holliday at the plate from center field to end the bottom of the sixth.
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, whose RBI single in the sixth meant all starters had hits, made another defensive gem with a spinning throw to prevent Holliday from getting an infield single in the seventh.
"I don't know that you can play better baseball than we played for the first six-plus innings," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "There was not a phase of our game that we didn't excel at -- home runs hit, stolen bases, situational at-bats and some great two-strike at-bats."
The game turned strange when Tracy went to his bullpen. Matt Daley gave up two hits and a run in the seventh. Alan Embree gave up three hits and two runs while managing one out in the eighth. Juan Rincon finished the eighth for Embree, but when Street took the mound to face Jack Hannahan, three of the four runs were in and a runner stood at third.
"It's comforting knowing he was coming in because he's been so good for us, but they had some momentum going toward the end of the game," said Stewart, who leads the team with 14 homers. "The right guy came out on the mound to stop that for us."
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.