09/27/08 2:15 AM ET
Rockies unable to solve D-backs
Hirsh pleased with first Major League start of the season
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
On Friday night, Chad Tracy's two-run double in the eighth gave the D-backs their 13th win in 16 meetings, 6-4, at Chase Field.
The game also featured D-backs home runs from Stephen Drew and Rockies tormentor Justin Upton, who also had a two-run triple. And anger boiled in the eighth inning, when Colorado manager Clint Hurdle was ejected for arguing when Troy Tulowitzki was called out attempting to steal second base.
But Rockies pitcher Jason Hirsh wasn't around for much of his team's misfortune against the D-backs this season. He wasn't around for much, period. So Hirsh wasn't feeling bad on Friday night.
His year has been marred by a rotator cuff strain suffered in Spring Training. But Hirsh gave a half-decent account of himself in his first start of 2008, giving up three runs and five hits, but it took him 105 pitches to make it to 4 1/3 innings.
Hirsh didn't figure in the decision -- Jason Grilli (3-2) absorbed that when he gave up Tracy's pinch-hit double -- so he could decide how he felt about it.
"It went OK," said Hirsh, who spent much of the season rehabbing, then pitching at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and hadn't started a game since Aug. 29 for the Sky Sox at Las Vegas. Hirsh had made three relief appearances for the Rockies this month.
"I fell behind a lot of counts, threw a lot of pitches early. But my arm felt fine. Everything felt good."
After yet another loss to the D-backs, it was refreshing for Hurdle to be able to take a positive. Hirsh, who went 5-7 with a 4.81 ERA last year as a rookie before suffering a broken fibula in August, would qualify as a pitcher the Rockies can look forward to having at full strength in 2009.
"Taking everything in consideration, the time between starts and the outings out of the bullpen, I thought he wasn't bad," Hurdle said. "I thought he showed some improvement. The volume of pitches wasn't what you want.
"But I told him after we took him out, he'd worked all year for this opportunity. We wanted to give him a chance to go out there. He felt fine. It wasn't fatigue as much as the inability to put counts away."
The Rockies scored three in the first inning against D-backs starter Dan Haren, with two of the runs coming on RBI doubles by Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe.
But the Upton and Drew homers cut the difference to 3-2 by the time Hirsh departed with a runner on base. Upton, who has hit .378 against the Rockies and .239 against everyone else, knocked his triple off reliever Matt Herges.
Joe Koshansky solved Haren with a pinch-hit RBI double in the seventh.
Tulowitzki drew a walk from reliever Juan Cruz (4-0) to open the eighth. He tried to steal second, but second-base umpire Ron Kulpa said Drew tagged him after receiving a throw from catcher Miguel Montero. Hurdle, however, didn't see a tag and argued until he was ejected.
Grilli pitched a scoreless seventh, but he gave up a Montero double, a walk and the Tracy double in the eighth. The D-Backs' Chad Qualls pitched a spotless ninth for his eighth save.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.