07/31/09 12:18 AM ET
Barmes, Rockies earn double dip split
De La Rosa's streak at seven; 27-inning run drought ends
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
Clint Barmes' two-run homer in the seventh inning broke a 1-1 tie -- one inning after Colorado snapped a 27-frame scoreless drought -- and Jorge De La Rosa picked up a victory in his franchise-record seventh consecutive start as the Rockies beat the Mets, 4-2, at Citi Field on Thursday night.
The win allowed the Rockies to salvage the nightcap of a doubleheader and the finale of a four-game series. The Mets had won the first three games of the set, including a 7-0 victory in Thursday's matinee.
"We've had to do a heck of a lot, obviously, to get to the point where we're at right now. That being said, if I think there was one game that was hugely important, it was this game at this point," manager Jim Tracy said. "Just the fact of not wanting to be swept, and moving to the next place and have lingering doubt hanging over your head."
Doubt had been placed into the minds of the Rockies throughout the first three games of the series, as they were unable to get a hit in a key spot. Colorado stranded 26 runners in the first three games of the series, going 1-for-18 with runners in scoring position. It didn't help that the one hit was an infield single by Monday's starting pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, and it didn't even drive in a run.
For five innings on Thursday night, little had changed. The Rockies missed scoring chances in the second, third and fourth innings, largely because they were forced to hope twice for a two-out hit from De La Rosa.
But Ryan Spilborghs' one-out single in the sixth plated Troy Tulowitzki to tie the game. Tulowitzki had walked to lead off the inning, and he alertly took second on Brad Hawpe's fly ball to right-center field.
"You look at this park, and any time you catch one in the air like that -- especially with Hawpe -- it's either going to go out or somebody's going to have enough time to run under it," said Tulowitzki, who later added an RBI triple in the seventh. "Even if I'm thrown out there, we needed something to be aggressive."
Spilborghs' single didn't just tie the game; it also snapped that 27-inning drought. The Rockies had been shut out in back-to-back games and in four of their past five road games against the Mets.
"Honestly, I didn't think about it or feel it until we scored that first run," Barmes said. "And then you're like, 'Man, when was the last time we had a run?'"
It was the struggling second baseman who supplied the biggest hit of the night, though -- a two-run homer off Mets starter Jonathon Niese in the seventh. De La Rosa led off the inning with a double to center, before Barmes turned on an 0-1 fastball from Niese one batter later and dispatched it into the left-field stands.
|"We've had to do a heck of a lot, obviously, to get to the point where we're at right now. That being said, if I think there was one game that was hugely important, it was this game at this point. Just the fact of not wanting to be swept, and moving to the next place and have lingering doubt hanging over your head."|
|-- Rockies manager Jim Tracy|
Niese had established his fastball on the inside corner all night and used his cutter to retire Barmes on a foul popup in the first. He wasn't able to sneak it by him in the seventh.
"At that point, I was just trying to catch the ball out in front and not get jammed on his cutter again," Barmes said. "He threw the fastball in again, and I was able to catch it out front and just stay through."
Barmes had the afternoon off to slow himself down at the plate after a difficult night on Tuesday. Dropped to eighth in the order because of a second-half slump, Barmes stranded six runners on base in the Rockies' 4-0 loss.
Back in the two-hole on Thursday night, he delivered his 14th long ball of the season and second of the series.
"It just goes to show you that's why you stick with your guys," Tulowitzki said of his double-play partner. "He's been struggling as of late, but in this game, you're going to struggle sometimes. If you have your guys in there, sooner or later, they're going to figure it out and come up with a big hit. That's exactly what Clint did."
The Rockies were in the game because of another sterling effort from De La Rosa. The southpaw allowed two runs on only three hits in 6 1/3 innings.
After starting the season 0-6, the southpaw has won nine of his past 10 starts, including the most recent seven. His ERA in those past seven starts is 2.70.
"I used a lot of two-seamers today. My slider was really good," De La Rosa said. "I mixed it up."
"He's dealing with adversity a lot better," Tracy said, adding that the questionable call on David Wright's fourth-inning steal of third may have rattled De La Rosa earlier in the season. "He's not overthrowing the ball, not rushing, he can get his pitches in the strike zone. When he does that with the stuff that he has, he's a very tough guy."
The Rockies as a team showed their ability to deal with adversity in bouncing back from a 7-0 shutout loss in the afternoon at the hands of Johan Santana. It's the kind of resolve that allowed them to bounce back from being 10 games under .500 in late May and emerge as a contender in the National League.
"Big-time resolve. That's the word," Tracy said. "We've got our mojo back."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.