New-look Rox stifle Red Sox in rematch
Club relies on Chacin, defense in Boston's return to Coors
DENVER -- The Rockies delivered a succinct message Tuesday night to the same club that came to Denver three years ago and swept Colorado out of the World Series.
Red Sox, meet the new Rockies.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
In the elapsed time, Colorado has since sported a new image for a club that once relied on double-digit scoring in a ballpark that was an exhibition hall for the long ball. In a 2-1 win against the Sox on Tuesday, the Rockies flaunted their patented brand of pitching and defense against one of the most powerful teams in baseball.
"It's a pitching and defense game, and it's a game the way both guys on both sides of the field and both bullpens were pitching," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "You have no room for error in a game like that -- physical, mental or otherwise."
As has become customary, the Rockies got a stellar performance from starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin (4-6, 3.56) and some nifty infield glovework for another grinding victory. In front of a sellout crowd, it was Colorado's fifth win by two runs or fewer in its last seven victories.
"That's our season so far in a nutshell," said shortstop Clint Barmes, who made a spectacular diving play on a ground ball to end the game. "That's the way it's been dang near every night. You want to watch an exciting game? Come watch a Rockies game.
"We're able to find ways to win, and our defense and our pitching has been great all year."
The Red Sox, out of the most top-heavy division in baseball, went into Tuesday's contest leading the American League in runs (390), hits (689), RBIs (373) and slugging percentage (.468), and were second in batting average (.278) and homers (93).
Couple that with Chacin's 1-3 record and 6.17 ERA at home entering the game, and on paper, it could have been a forecast of 2007 all over again.
Instead, Chacin and the Rockies' staff handled the heart of Boston's order with great care, striking out each of the Red Sox's 3-4-5 hitters at least once and surrendering seven hits in all.
"He put up a lot of zeroes," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Chacin. "His stuff -- late action. Breaking ball was good. We had a couple of chances to hurt him and we didn't."
Chacin struggled only in the third and seventh innings, when he loaded the bases with two outs in both cases. In the third, he retired catcher Victor Martinez on a ground ball to second.
"I was so, so fast," Chacin said of his third-inning struggles. "I was trying to do too much. As for Martinez, I just told myself, 'Relax and throw it down the middle. No matter what happens, don't walk him. Make him swing it.' That's what I did, and thank God it was just a ground ball to second base."
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton came through in the fifth, when he dropped a two-out single into right field, scoring third baseman Chris Nelson -- who had delivered his first big league hit -- for a 1-0 lead.
In the seventh, left-hander Joe Beimel relieved Chacin and induced an inning-ending grounder from pinch-hitter David Ortiz.
"It's just one of those situations in the game where it's really fun," Beimel said. "The crowd's going crazy and you get to come in. Chacin pitched a great game, and to be able to come in and pick him up and leave his runners out there, that's my job. It was a good time."
Left fielder Ryan Spilborghs tacked on what would eventually become an invaluable insurance run in the eighth when a grounder hit right to Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro took a wild hop past him, allowing Helton to score Colorado's second run of the game.
"That was the ghost of Tulo's mullet coming into play. His locket of hair was there," Spilborghs said, joking about Colorado's injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. "If I could, I wish I had hit a line drive up the middle and made it super simple. But that's how baseball works and I'll take it -- especially for a win in a big series."
With Manuel Corpas struggling in his last two outings, and the recently activated Huston Street not yet ready for such a situation, Matt Belisle came on for the ninth inning, giving up two hits and a run, but earning the second save of his seven-year career.
"It's just a huge win for the club," Belisle said. "A save's a save, a win's a win. I obviously made it a little bit exciting. But if we need me to do it again, I'm ready."
It was only fitting for such a win to end with Barmes tumbling in the hole at shortstop to field a grounder off Mike Lowell's bat before firing across the diamond for the final out.
"I don't really know how to describe that play," Tracy said. "That's as good as you'll see. I don't know if anybody can make that play any better or even come close to making it after he hits the ground, rolls over, gets back up and throws a one-hop strike to first base."
The Red Sox outscored the Rockies, 29-10, in the 2007 Fall Classic, and on Tuesday, Colorado turned to a young pitcher who was at the Rookie level that year. This time around, Chacin and the Rockies introduced the Sox to the way Colorado has been winning games in 2010.
"There is no questioning our capability as a ballclub to pitch or catch the ball," Tracy said. "And if you do those two things, you're going to hang around in a lot of games just like we've done for the first 70 in the season. Some of this other stuff starts to show up, we get a little bit better."
Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.