DENVER — Remember when . . .
The Colorado Rockies clubbed home runs in Coors Field at record paces?
The other teams did, too?
And the Rockies usually won those games?
Anyone longing for a return to those carefree days got their wish Sunday when the Rockies beat the Chicago Cubs, 9-7. The teams combined for eight home runs. Colorado’s four set a single-game team high for 2005, and
the eight matched the output the Padres and Rockies generated Opening Day.
“We had a little nostalgia out
there today,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “That was a throwback game.”
Putting all nostalgia aside, Sunday’s win came with significance. The Rockies ended their franchise-long 14-game homestand at 6-8.
After losing six of seven at one point over the past two weeks, the Rockies needed a boost. So they stole energy from the hearty Cubs fans who flocked to Coors over the weekend. The Rockies finished a strange stretch, during which they struggled to score runs and were shut out twice, with two wins in three games over Chicago.
The series, including Sunday’s 30,111, drew 96,073 fans. That’s the most for a three-game set at Coors Field in 2005.
The Rockies outslugged the Cubs’ beefy lineup. They beat Chicago starter Greg Maddux, who entered Sunday 5-0 in six Coors Field starts. They overcame a 5-3 deficit. And they weathered another bad start by Jeff Francis.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Rockies (47-77) have only 13 home games remaining in 2005. That puts them on the road 25 more times, starting with their next nine in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco.
Winning the series doesn’t exactly
cure everything. But it doesn’t hurt.
“It was a wonderful way to finish the weekend, to finish the homestand that looked like it might be going sideways on us a little bit,” Hurdle said. “We did what we could do after losing the first game (of the series). We had contributions from everybody. Exciting game.
“Everybody who went out there today just showed a lot of persistence, a lot of energy. We were worried about the guys maybe getting a little tired. ... To come back after falling behind really showed their mettle.”
Dustan Mohr, Garrett Atkins, Matt Holliday and Jorge Piedra hit Colorado’s homers. Piedra’s, a three-run shot in the ninth, gave the Rockies a four-run lead. Overworked closer Brian Fuentes (63 appearances in 124 games) struggled when Chicago’s Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit home runs leading off the ninth. Fuentes fanned the potential tying run, pinch-hitter Todd Walker, to end it.
Francis flirted with danger through the first three innings. He could not get out of the fifth, when the Cubs homered twice and scored five times.
“I made some good pitches to get out of jams early in the game, and I just wasn’t able to do it in the fifth inning,” he said.
But, breaking a 2005 trend, the offense finally bailed out a starting pitcher. The Rockies entered the day with 113 home runs, well on their way to a single-season low. No one could provide a tangible explanation for the outburst on a day a future Hall-of-Famer took the mound.
“Sometimes it works that way,” Mohr said. “We went through a spell there where we couldn’t score off of anybody. We took advantage of some of Maddux’s mistakes today.”
Said Piedra: “I don’t know. Day game? Hot? We just seemed to see Maddux well.”