07/31/10 2:20 AM ET
MLB-record 11 straight hits power Rox in rout
By Thomas Harding / MLB.com
Gonzalez's two-out RBI single in the eighth gave the Rockies a four-run lead, meaning it was no longer a save situation.
"I was like, 'OK, Huston, I'm going to try to get this run, then you're not going to get to work,'" Gonzalez said. "That's when everything started."
It didn't end until the Rockies had hit their way into the record book. The Rockies finished the inning with a club single-inning record 13 hits, and a Major League-record 11 consecutive hits while turning a potential save situation into a 17-2 victory at Coors Field.
The consecutive hits record and the Rockies' franchise-record 12 runs in the eighth all came with two outs. The Rockies sent 18 batters to the plate against three pitchers. Melvin Mora singled with no outs as a pinch-hitter and was one of five Rockies with two hits in an inning that saw Ian Stewart and Dexter Fowler hit two-run homers, and Troy Tulowitzki double twice.
"I was up there twice and was like, 'It would be OK if we ended it now,' but I didn't want to be the guy that made the last out," said catcher Chris Iannetta, who tripled and walked. "I think everyone felt the same way."
By the time Gonzalez came up a second time, he had forgotten about the original goal of adding to a lead and saving Street for another night.
"I was like, 'Are you kidding me? Are we still scoring?'" he said.
Just a couple days ago, the Rockies were reeling from an eight-game losing streak and report after report was claiming they were going to start breaking up the club before Saturday's 2 p.m. MT non-waiver Trade Deadline.
But after a 9-3 victory Thursday to avert being swept by the lowly Pirates and Friday's romp, the Rockies have suddenly found offense and hope. They trail the Padres in the National League West by eight games and the Giants in the Wild Card by 5 1/2.
"Those are good pitchers they're throwing out there, too," Tulowitzki said. "It wasn't like guys that just got called up. Those guys had some good numbers.
"I don't know what the difference is. Baseball is a game of momentum. Once you get going, you roll a little bit."
Since the eighth inning bordered on absurd, let's take that away for a moment. Friday still would have been a ship-righting game.
Starting pitcher Jeff Francis (4-3) held the Cubs to four hits, struck out five and walked one in six innings, and didn't crack until the Cubs scored twice in the sixth.
Seth Smith doubled in two runs and Iannetta drew a bases-loaded walk from Ryan Dempster (8-8) in a three-run second, and Gonzalez knocked his team-leading 20th homer of the season off Dempster to open a two-run fifth.
Relief pitchers Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt combined for five strikeouts in the seventh and eighth innings.
"It was a terrific baseball tonight," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "Even if we wouldn't have gotten 17 runs."
It could have easily been Street trying to prevent a Cubs comeback, instead of recently activated Taylor Buchholz, easing into action after missing a year because of right elbow surgery, working with a 15-run lead in the ninth.
Clint Barmes doubled and Mora singled to open the eighth, but Sean Marshall struck out Fowler and Ryan Spilborghs. Gonzalez's single and doubles by Tulowitkzi and Brad Hawpe drove him from the game. Andrew Cashner gave up six straight hits, including the Stewart and Fowler homers, and Brian Schlitter walked two and yielded two hits before Stewart flied to center -- two batters from seeing Mora appear three times in an inning he entered as a pinch-hitter.
"If you come in as a pinch-hitter in an inning, how many hits is a record?" Iannetta said.
Cubs manager Lou Piniella was just happy to close the book.
"Forget me," Piniella said. "I feel bad for my pitchers. I feel bad for the young kids trying to get the job done and they get in trouble and don't have the answers on how to get out of it."
Two of the key figures in the inning, Gonzalez, who singled twice, and Fowler, whose homer was his third of the season, showed the benefits of coming to work sick.
Fowler said he has strep throat. His airways were nearly closed Thursday, and he visited a doctor Friday.
"My head was pounding the whole game," Fowler said.
Gonzalez said he's suffering from stomach aches and general soreness, and did not eat all day.
"During batting practice, Dexter and I were talking to each other, trying to keep ourselves in the lineup and trying to do the best we can," Gonzalez said.
Both were still ill, but 17 runs and a good night's rest should help.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.