© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
08/27/08 2:19 AM ET
Rockies stay hot, cruise past Giants
Grilli gets first professional save with three perfect innings
By Rick Eymer / Special to MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Jason Grilli stood in front of his locker, soaking in the postgame atmosphere. He felt like he was floating, almost dream-like, in his own world while happy faces and loud music danced around him.
Grilli, after 150 Major League relief appearances, finally recorded his first professional save in the Colorado Rockies' 7-2 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday night.
It was a three-inning save, the kind you feel you earned. He marveled at the coincidence of it all.
"The Giants were the team that drafted me, and to get the save here, in the last ballpark I hadn't been in before now, makes it special," Grilli said. "The game ball is going into a nice trophy case at home."
The Giants drafted him as a starter in the first round of the 1997 First-Year Player Draft but traded him to the Florida Marlins, for current teammate Livan Hernandez, before he reached the Majors.
He bounced around with the Marlins and Chicago White Sox before finding a home in the Detroit Tigers' bullpen in 2006. His father, Steve Grilli, made his Major League debut with the Tigers in 1975.
"Here I am standing next to the guy I was traded for," Grilli said after retiring all nine hitters he faced, three on strikeouts. "The game comes full circle. I want to keep experiencing it as much as I can. I want to soak it all up and play as long and hard as I can."
Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said it was the perfect opportunity to give his bullpen a rest, especially with closer Brian Fuentes away from the club dealing with family matters.
"That's a pretty good accomplishment: his first personal save," Hurdle said. "That's some of the best stuff he's had all season long. It was a very good performance and it came at a good time. It worked out well for us and it worked out well for Jason."
Garrett Atkins, Chris Iannetta and Troy Tulowitzki each drove in two runs as the Rockies won their fourth straight and ninth of 11, inching ever so closer to the top teams in their division.
"You have to do it without the home run here," Atkins said. "In this ballpark, you need to string hits together to win. A four-run lead here is hard to overcome."
Jorge De La Rosa (7-7) won for the second time in three decisions as the Rockies picked up a game on the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks for the third straight day and are now within six games of first place, the closest they've been since being five games back on April 21.
De La Rosa's shaky start -- he walked the first two hitters he faced and walked the opposing pitcher, which led to a run -- made it an interesting game for Hurdle.
"I just stopped watching," Hurdle said. "I took some advice from a friend and let him paint his own picture."
The Rockies also closed to within three games of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers despite being eight games under .500.
"He stayed under control," Iannetta said of De La Rosa. "He made some adjustments and was able to battle through some early problems."
Ian Stewart also drove in a run for the Rockies, who clinched their fourth straight series and will go for their second sweep in San Francisco on Wednesday night.
Brad Hawpe, held out of Monday's starting lineup, was 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored. Stewart also reached base five times, extending his hitting streak with a seventh-inning single and walking three times.
The Rockies have fallen behind in all four games of the current winning streak. De La Rosa walked the pitcher with two outs in the second and Randy Winn followed with an RBI double, but the Rockies' four-run outburst against Matt Palmer in the third rendered it academic.
De La Rosa pitched six innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits. He walked three and struck out three.
"I think he was effectively wild," Giants third baseman Rich Aurilia said. "It seemed like every time he threw a slider or a breaking ball, he kept it down and we swung over the top of it."
The Rockies were within five games of first place after 134 games last year.