The struggling Colorado Rockies followed up a pregame meeting with their best offensive showing in months, and Wilin Rosario believes it was no coincidence.
Rosario doubled and homered to drive in four runs, leading a Colorado offense that batted around in the first and second innings, and the Rockies snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-1 on Friday night.
Manager Walt Weiss had called the meeting to discuss the club’s play on the heels of a 1-9 road trip.
“It was a wake-up call,” Rosario said. “But he didn’t let us keep our heads down. Everybody was focused and ready to go. That was good, to show as a team that we can come back and play well.”
Weiss said his players deserve the credit, not him.
“We got kicked around the last 10 days and had to come out and face a team with the best record in the league, and go against one of the best pitchers in the league and the guys fought,” Weiss said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with me. The guys went out there and competed. I’m proud of them.”
Colorado scored double digits for the first time since also putting up 10 runs in a victory over Philadelphia two months ago.
Francisco Liriano (12-5) bore the brunt of the Rockies’ outburst in his first appearance at hitter-friendly Coors Field, allowing a career-high 10 runs on 12 hits in 2 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
“I was missing my spots a lot,” Liriano said. “The slider wasn’t sharp tonight either. Got behind in the count a lot. One of those days. Nothing was moving, nothing was sinking. I couldn’t get anything going.”
With the game out of reach, Pirates infielder Josh Harrison was summoned by manager Clint Hurdle to relieve Jared Hughes and got pinch-hitter Corey Dickerson to fly out to left to close out the eighth.
It was the first relief appearance of Harrison’s career and marked the first time a Pirates position player had been used in a relief role since infielder Abraham Nunez got one out during a 12-1 Pittsburgh loss to the Chicago Cubs on May 30, 2004.
“Why bring any other pitcher in?” said Hurdle, also a former Rockies manager. “I’ve got a little experience here. You bring in another pitcher and he might end up facing four or five. We told him to keep it low and don’t get hurt. He said he didn’t get to work his cutter in. It’s a hard at-bat for the other guy. We wanted to preserve our pen for the two games we have left to play.”
Jorge De La Rosa (11-6) went five innings, shaking off a blow near his pitching shoulder from Jordy Mercer’s comebacker and keeping the Pirates in check by working out of two bases-loaded jams early.
Pittsburgh, one of only three major league teams with at least 70 wins this season, lost for the first time in six games.
The Rockies had averaged just over a run per game during their skid, which included a 5-2 loss a week ago at PNC Park in which Liriano got the win with seven scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.02. It increased to 2.83 after the second-chance shelling by the Rockies.
“I felt like the guys attacked the big part of the field and certainly didn’t go up there and try to pull them,” Weiss said. “He’s got a great changeup and we made some adjustments, let the ball travel a little bit and attacked the big part of the field.”
The Pirates opened the game with four consecutive singles off De La Rosa but failed to score. Leadoff man Starling Marte was picked off first base by De La Rosa after singling. Jordy Mercer, Andrew McCutchen and Russell Martin hit successive singles to load the bases but De La Rosa fanned Pedro Alvarez and got Gaby Sanchez on a groundout to end the inning.
Liriano retired the first batter he faced, Dexter Fowler, on a liner to short. The next six Rockies batters reached on a walk and base hits, including RBI singles by Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton, and Rosario’s two-run double.
Rosario turned on a 93 mph fastball for his 16th homer of the season during the Rockies’ five-run second inning.
Pittsburgh got a run on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Mercer in the second. After McCutchen walked to re-load the bases with two outs, Martin grounded out.
The Rockies added a final run in the third on a fielder’s choice by Cuddyer.
NOTES: Liriano’s personal three-game winning streak was snapped. ... Pittsburgh began a stretch where it plays 13 of 16 on the road. ... A.J. Burnett (5-7), who went the distance in beating the Rockies 5-1 last time out, is set to pitch Saturday night against Colorado’s Juan Nicasio (6-6). ... Since mid-June, Rosario is batting .328 with 11 doubles, a triple, 6 home runs and 24 RBIs in 38 games.