DENVER -- The ball left Matt Holliday's bat and kept rising, reaching the highest point of the arc as it sailed over center fielder Juan Pierre's head before landing over some trees in the back of Chicago's bullpen.
For a team that's had a hard time getting the big hits, this one was huge.
Holliday hit a 446-foot, three-run blast in the first inning and added a sacrifice fly in the second, helping the Colorado Rockies blast Chicago's pitchers for the second straight game in an 8-4 victory over the Cubs on Saturday night.
"That's a big swing of the bat," Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. "We've been through enough situations where we've said let's get our gloves and see if we can hold them, come back in and score some runs, so it's a big swing of the bat."
The Rockies have had trouble coming up with the big hit most of the season, entering Saturday's game second-worst in the majors at hitting with two outs and after the seventh inning. Colorado had particular trouble in the clutch during a recent seven-game road trip, averaging 2.71 runs and 6.57 hits to go 3-4 and fall further behind in the NL wild card standings.
Apparently, all the Rockies needed was a trip home.
So what if Coors Field has had some of the hot air taken out of it this season and who cares if half of the 43,485 fans seemed to be cheering for the Cubs? Colorado has felt right at home in its first two games against the Cubs, taking advantage of Chicago's inexperienced pitching to build early leads and stay within 2½ games of Cincinnati in the wild-card race.
"As a starting pitcher, it's unbelievable to have a five- or six-run lead to deal with, knowing that if you make a couple mistakes you're not going to go out there and start pressing," Rockies starter Josh Fogg said. "With a six-run lead, a home run here, a home run there isn't going to kill you."
Colorado broke out of a scoring slump against the Cubs on Friday night, getting 12 hits and three homers in a 10-2 win. The Rockies were still feeling it a day later, battering Angel Guzman (0-3) for four runs in the first inning and finishing with 15 hits -- six for extra bases.
That helped to help Fogg (8-7) earn his first win since July 5 despite some shaky moments.
The right-hander allowed three earned runs -- four total -- and 10 hits, dodging what could have been a huge inning in the fourth, when he held the Cubs to two runs after they loaded the bases with no outs.
"It's frustrating," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "That one inning we were really threatening. That was a big, big double play they got us to hit into."
Matt Murton was 3-for-4 with a homer and an RBI single, and the Cubs tried to keep pace with the Rockies with 13 hits, but couldn't overcome deficits of 4-0 and 7-1 in the first three innings for their fourth-straight loss.
Chicago's troubles started early.
Holliday had the big blow in the first inning with his team-leading 22nd homer of the season, and Ryan Spilborghs followed with an RBI single.
Todd Helton tripled in a run in the second inning and Holliday just missed his second homer in as many at-bats, settling for a sacrifice fly at the warning track in center that put Colorado up 6-1. The Rockies added another run off Guzman in the third on Clint Barmes' RBI single and finally chased the rookie right-hander on Jamey Carroll's two-out single -- Colorado's ninth hit of the game.
Guzman, called up before the game after Mark Prior went on the 15-day DL with shoulder tendinitis, allowed a career-high seven runs to remain winless in seven major-league appearances, including five starts. He's allowed 23 earned runs in 28 innings.
"I think early in the year I was having a lot of problems with my command," Guzman said. "(Now) everything is coming good. Today wasn't one of those days."
Fogg wasn't exactly sharp, either. He just did a better job of working through traffic.
Chicago got a run off the right-hander in the second inning on John Mabry's RBI double, then got two more in the fourth after four straight singles.
Fogg gave up a solo homer to Murton in the sixth that cut the lead to 8-4, and didn't come out for the seventh.
Helton had a single in the first and a double in the fifth to go with his second-inning triple, but failed to become the fifth Rockies player to hit for the cycle in his final at-bat, popping out to first to end the seventh inning.
|All-Star outfielder Matt Holliday goes 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI for the victorious Rockies. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Juan Pierre, CF||5||0||2||0||0||0||0|
|Cesar Izturis, SS||4||0||2||0||1||0||1|
|Michael Barrett, C||4||0||1||0||0||0||3|
|Aramis Ramirez, 3B||4||2||1||0||0||0||3|
|Jacque Jones, RF||4||1||1||0||0||1||1|
|Matt Murton, LF||4||1||3||2||0||0||0|
|Bob Howry, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|John Mabry, 1B||4||0||2||1||0||0||1|
|Ronny Cedeno, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||2|
|Angel Guzman, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|David Aardsma, P||1||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|a- Neifi Perez, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1|
|Michael Wuertz, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Will Ohman, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Angel Pagan, LF||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|a-grounded out for Aardsma in the 6th|
|2B - Cesar Izturis (, Fogg), John Mabry (, Fogg)|
|HR - Matt Murton (, Fogg)|
|RBI - Matt Murton 2 (), John Mabry ()|
|2-OUT RBI - John Mabry ()|
|CS - Juan Pierre (, 2nd base by Fogg/Torrealba), Cesar Izturis (, 2nd base by Fogg/Torrealba)|
|Team LOB - 7|
|Angel Guzman (L,-)||2.2||9||7||7||2||1||1|
|IBB - Smith by Bob Howry|
|WP - Angel Guzman ()|
|Pitches-Strikes - Angel Guzman 68-39, David Aardsma 34-18, Michael Wuertz 22-12, Will Ohman 1-1, Bob Howry 25-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Angel Guzman 5-2, David Aardsma 4-1, Michael Wuertz 4-1, Bob Howry 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Angel Guzman 19, David Aardsma 11, Michael Wuertz 7, Will Ohman 1, Bob Howry 6|
|Jamey Carroll, 2B||2||1||1||1||2||0||0|
|Todd Helton, 1B||5||2||3||1||0||1||4|
|Garrett Atkins, 3B||3||1||2||0||2||0||1|
|Matt Holliday, LF||4||1||3||4||0||0||0|
|Brad Hawpe, RF||5||1||1||0||0||0||2|
|Ryan Spilborghs, CF||4||1||2||1||0||1||2|
|Manuel Corpas, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|a- Jason Smith, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Jose Mesa, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Yorvit Torrealba, C||5||0||0||0||0||1||6|
|Clint Barmes, SS||5||1||2||1||0||1||4|
|Josh Fogg, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|Jeremy Affeldt, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|b- Cory Sullivan, PH-CF||1||0||1||0||0||0||0|
|a-was walked intentionally for Corpas in the 8th|
|b-singled for Affeldt in the 7th|
|2B - Todd Helton (, Aardsma), Brad Hawpe (, Guzman), Ryan Spilborghs (, Guzman), Clint Barmes (, Aardsma)|
|3B - Todd Helton (, Guzman)|
|HR - Matt Holliday (, Guzman)|
|SF - Jamey Carroll (), Matt Holliday ()|
|SH - Josh Fogg ()|
|RBI - Jamey Carroll (), Todd Helton (), Matt Holliday 4 (), Ryan Spilborghs (), Clint Barmes ()|
|Team LOB - 12|
|DP - Atkins-Carroll-Helton, Barmes-Carroll-Helton|
|E - Clint Barmes (, )|
|Josh Fogg (W,-)||6||10||4||3||1||1||1|
|Pitches-Strikes - Josh Fogg 93-59, Jeremy Affeldt 17-10, Manuel Corpas 9-7, Jose Mesa 16-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Josh Fogg 6-9, Jeremy Affeldt 2-1, Manuel Corpas 1-1, Jose Mesa 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Josh Fogg 27, Jeremy Affeldt 4, Manuel Corpas 4, Jose Mesa 3|
|Attendance - 43485|
|Game Time - 2:47|
|Temperature - 77|
|Umpires - Home - Joe West, First Base - Travis Reininger, Second Base - Tony Randazzo, Third Base - Jim Wolf|