Rox force extras but can't stop Pedroia
By Joey Nowak / MLB.com
DENVER — a series-ending loss to the Red Sox on Thursday night at Coors Field provided the Rockies with a rude reminder of just how lethal Boston can be.
Meeting for the first time since the 2007 World Series, the two teams butted heads for three heart-stoppers — a one-run game, a walk-off performance and, finally, Thursday’s 13-11 Red Sox win in 10 innings.
For a June Interleague series, it sure had a postseason feel.
“All I can say is that’s some game,” Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. “That’s some series. Obviously, I haven’t been around here since the inception of this ballpark, but I think you might be hard-pressed to find a better three-game series that was played between two clubs.”
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
with a chance to sweep the Red Sox out of Denver after Boston took them down in four games in the 2007 Fall Classic, the Rockies came just shy of doing so.
Against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon with the Rockies trailing, 11-9, and one out in the ninth, first baseman Todd Helton and center fielder Carlos Gonzalzez reached on consecutive singles. Representing the winning run, right fielder Brad Hawpe singled down the left-field line to tie the game.
Up next, left fielder Seth Smith drove a 1-1 delivery from Papelbon to the deepest part of the ballpark in right-center field — about 420 feet from the plate — but center fielder Darnell McDonald was there to haul it in.
“We were so interested in sweeping that series,” Tracy said. “We were so close. I’m talking probably about a shoulder’s-width length further to the right off of the bat of Seth Smith in the bottom of the ninth, and we win the game.”
Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who was 4-for-4 with two homers heading into his 10th-inning at-bat, quickly made the Rockies wish Smith had put the game away in the ninth.
Pedroia, the 2008 American League Most Valuable Player, drove a hanging slider from Rockies closer Huston Street into the left-field bleachers to secure his first career three-homer game and put the Red Sox ahead, 13-11.
“I’ve been feeling good at the plate lately — seeing the ball good, hitting the ball all over the place,” Pedroia said. “I feel good. The only thing is that you have to get a good pitch to hit and hit it. Tonight, I got good pitches to hit and I didn’t miss them.”
it was the second outing in as many nights for both teams’ closers, and though Papelbon suffered blown saves in each instance, he managed to walk off the hill on the second night feeling better than Street.
“You’ve got to make a better pitch in that situation to a guy that’s having that kind of night,” Street said of his showdown with Pedroia. “He’s got that MVP by his name for a reason. he had a good night. I don’t think we made our pitches against him. I know I didn’t.”
Papelbon, who improved to 3-4 but saw his ERA rise to 3.98, came back out to pitch a perfect 10th and earn his third win of the season.
By the time Pedroia homered, the effort of Rockies starter Jason Hammel — who saw his streak of consecutive scoreless innings come to an end at 28 1/3 innings when he gave up four runs in the fourth — was a distant memory. Hammel allowed seven hits and those four runs in four innings.
“I didn’t put guys away when I had the chance tonight, and there were a couple where I’d get behind hitters and make a mistake,” Hammel said. “Big league hitters don’t miss mistakes like that.”
The Rockies got to Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka — in his first start since returning from the disabled list with a right forearm strain — early, as he issued three walks and surrendered an RBI single to Hawpe in the first inning alone.
But Matsuzaka settled down, holding the Rockies to just the two runs before exiting after five innings.
Each team sent six relievers to the mound, and of the 12, eight allowed at least one earned run. Rockies relievers Franklin Morales, Rafael Betancourt and Street — 0-1 with a 7.71 ERRA — all allowed homers.
Colorado’s late-game heroics were an encore after the excitement of Wednesday night, when Ian Stewart and Jason Giambi homered off Papelbon to deliver an 8-6 walk-off victory.
Both games offered a welcomed breath of life into a Colorado offense that had been struggling to find a groove. On Thursday, though, it was the pitching staff that faltered.
“It’s an American League team,” Hammel said. “They’ll bash it. if I would have executed pitches, it’d be a different story. eleven runs should be enough for us to win a ballgame.”
Joey Nowak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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