06/13/09 1:20 AM ET
Rockies up win streak to nine
Jimenez shines on hill as hosts cut down Mariners
By Cheng Sio / MLB.com
In the first four innings, Jimenez (5-6) struggled as the Mariners took a 4-3 lead which included a mammoth first-inning solo home run to right-center field by first baseman Russell Branyan and a two-run double off the left-field wall by third baseman Adrian Beltre in the third.
The Rockies were likewise down early this season, starting 18-28 which cost manger Clint Hurdle his job.
"Probably in the last year or the last couple of years, if I ever started a game like that allowing two or three runs, I'll be down," Jimenez said. "I wouldn't be able to get out of the fifth inning."
In the sixth, Jimenez pulled the bat back on a bunt attempt and hit Jarrod Washburn's four-seam fastball past a drawn-in Branyan for an RBI single to right field, scoring Troy Tulowitzki from second base to tie the game 4-4.
"When you're standing as close to it as Russell Branyan was, I guarantee you that's going to get your attention when you see a full swing coming your way," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.
On the next pitch, Dexter Fowler pulled off the suicide-squeeze bunt and Ian Stewart, who had advanced to third on Jimenez's single, slid feet-first at home and beat catcher Rob Johnson's tag to give the Rockies the go-ahead run.
"I was definitely safe," Stewart said. "I got my foot in there. I slid into the front part of the plate and he kind of tagged the middle part."
In the final three innings, Jimenez shut the Mariners down by allowing only two baserunners, both on walks. Like Jimenez's masterful ending, the Rockies have rebounded and are 11-4 during Tracy's helm.
"I can't emphasize enough the job Ubaldo Jimenez did over the course of the last three innings," Tracy said. "He became a different pitcher just like I saw in St. Louis, but with not as good stuff."
Tracy needed Jimenez to finish the game -- provided he still had the goods -- because closer Huston Street had closed out the last four games and Tracy said they "only had pieces of a couple of other guys."
Jimenez threw his second career complete game and tossed a career-high 127 pitches. His final line was four runs allowed on eight hits with four walks and three strikeouts. Washburn (3-5) picked up the loss as he yielded five runs, four earned, on six hits in six innings.
With the Rockies on a tear, some players are noticing a different vibe in tight ballgames like Friday night. The Rockies have won their last five games by three runs or less.
"Early on in the season, we were expecting bad things to happen," Tulowitzki said. "Now, we're expecting good things to happen. We're waiting for the big pitch, we're waiting for the big hit and we're getting it. Before, we were thinking out there like what's going to happen and what's going to go wrong?"
Cheng Sio is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.