PHOENIX (AP) — Colorado's Kyle Freeland threw six solid innings and then handed off to the bullpen.
Lately, that's been when the trouble has started for the Rockies.
But not Tuesday night. Matt Koch handled the seventh, Jake Bird took the eighth and Tyler Kinley locked down the ninth. Nine batters up, nine batters down, and a drama-free 3-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
“That's good to see,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “Those guys have talked about a turnaround, so maybe tonight's the night that gets those guys going. First-pitch strikes. Attack. Low pitch counts.”
The last-place Rockies beat the playoff-contending D-backs for just the third time in 12 tries this season.
Arizona — locked in a tight battle for one of three National League wild-card spots — fell behind the Miami Marlins and Cincinnati Reds for the final spot after both those teams won Tuesday. The D-backs have lost six of its past eight games.
“We just didn't get it done,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “We all know what's in front of us, we know the situation, but we just couldn't go out there and string together consistent at-bats.”
The Rockies took a 1-0 lead in the first on rookie Nolan Jones' run-scoring double to deep right, but the D-backs tied it up in the bottom of the inning when Emmanuel Rivera's single scored Ketel Marte, who led off with a triple.
Jones has been one of the bright spots in a tough season for the Rockies. The left-handed batter is hitting .282 with 14 homers and 44 RBIs.
Colorado scored a run in both the third and fourth, pushing its advantage to 3-1. The Rockies were helped by the D-backs' defense in the third when Ezequiel Toval stole third and then scored after a wild throw from catcher Gabriel Moreno sailed into the outfield.
That was enough for Freeland (6-14), who gave up two runs on six hits, striking out two and walking three. Kinley earned his second save this season and third of his big-league career.
Freeland recently altered the grip on his changeup and used it with success against the D-backs.
“The changeup tonight was probably the best it's been in a while,” Freeland said. “It's a brand-new grip, threw it for the first time yesterday. Still got to tinker with it a little, but I think we've got something going there.”
It was a short night for Arizona rookie Brandon Pfaadt (1-8), who gave up three runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out four and walked two.
The D-backs' bullpen pitched well, giving the offense plenty of time to get back in the game. Corbin Carroll's sacrifice fly in the fourth cut the Rockies lead to 3-2, but the D-backs couldn't get any closer, going scoreless over the final five frames.
SAALFRANK'S STELLAR DEBUT
Arizona left-hander Andrew Saalfrank made his big-league debut, providing 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
He entered the with two outs in the sixth before coaxing a groundout from veteran Charlie Blackmon to finish the inning. He followed that with by retiring the Rockies in order in the seventh and striking out Jones to open the eighth.
Saalfrank played in college at Indiana and was a sixth round pick in 2019.
The Rockies promoted IF/OF Cole Tucker to the roster and optioned 1B/OF Michael Toglia to Triple-A Albuquerque. Colorado also designated IF Coco Montes for assignment.
The three-game series wraps up on Wednesday. The D-backs will start RHP Zach Davies (2-5, 6.45 ERA). The Rockies will counter with RHP Chris Flexen (1-6, 6.89)
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb