PHOENIX (AP) — Charlie Blackmon and the Colorado Rockies had been hoping for a game like this.
Sort of, anyway.
Blackmon’s grand slam helped the Rockies build a big cushion and they held on during a tense ninth inning to beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 8-7 on Wednesday night.
Colorado has won three straight after bouncing back from a seven-game losing skid.
“It’s not really a baseball season until things get tough, things get hard,” Blackmon said. “I think it’s important to always have that perspective that you’re going to have good times, you’re going to have bad times.”
Blackmon’s second career slam made it 8-1 in the top of the eighth. After the Diamondbacks scored twice in the bottom half of the inning, they rallied for four runs in the ninth.
Christian Walker’s two-run single — which was inches shy of being a game-winning homer — pulled the D-backs within an 8-7 margin. Jeff Hoffman earned his first big league save when Nick Ahmed struck out looking with the bases loaded to end the game.
Arizona has lost a season-high eight in a row. D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said he was pleased his team didn’t give up but frustrated with the end result.
“I’m really proud of the fact that we didn’t shut down and we found ourselves in a situation where we were six inches away from winning this baseball game,” Lovullo said. “But I don’t want to rest on that.”
Jon Gray (2-3) pitched six innings in his best outing of the season, allowing one run and three hits. He came into the game with a 6.23 ERA and had given up 15 earned runs over his previous 14 innings.
“He was pitching aggressive and had a mindset that he was really going to be on the attack,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “He used his fastball on both sides of the plate and threw that good, hard slider. To me, that’s the best stuff he’s had all year.”
Nolan Arenado hit a two-run double in the first to give the Rockies a 2-0 lead. It remained a tight game until the eighth when Blackmon sent a drive that landed deep in the right-field seats. It was his fourth homer of the season and came off rookie Riley Smith, who was making his big league debut.
“He couldn’t afford to walk me right there,” Blackmon said. “He threw me a fastball inner half and I was ready for it.”
It was another frustrating outing for Robbie Ray (1-4), who lasted just four innings and threw 99 pitches. He struck out eight but also walked six and gave up two runs.
D-BACKS, ROCKIES DECIDE TO PLAY
Rockies veteran outfielder Matt Kemp, who is Black, didn’t play. He announced on social media that he was protesting “in honor of all of my fallen brothers and sisters at the hands of police brutality.”
Blackmon said that while the Rockies ultimately decided to play, they supported Kemp’s decision.
“I spoke to Matt and he was hurting today,” Blackmon said. “It was tough for him and Matt did what he felt like he needed to do.”
Much of the American sports landscape was silent in support of racial injustice by Wednesday night but the D-backs and Rockies decided to play. The other two late West Coast baseball games — Dodgers vs. Giants and Mariners vs. Padres — were postponed.
They were among three Major League Baseball games postponed as players across reacted in the wake of the weekend shooting by police of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Wisconsin. The domino effect started after the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks didn’t come out on the floor for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Orlando Magic on Wednesday afternoon in Florida.
NBA officials later announced that all three of the day’s scheduled playoff games had been postponed. The WNBA also postponed its three games and Major League Soccer postponed five of six games.
Blackmon said that “ultimately I think we decided the most unifying thing was to come out and play this game that everybody loves to play.”
“It’s one of the most inclusive games in the world,” Blackmon added. “You can be Black, white, Latino, Japanese, tall, short, fat, it doesn’t matter. If you can play the game, you can be on this field.”
Rockies: OF Raimel Tapia was a late scratch because of a right elbow contusion. He was hit by a pitch on Tuesday. … C Tony Wolters didn’t start for a second straight game after being hit on the left knee with a foul tip on Monday. He did play a few innings on Tuesday as a late-inning substitute.
Diamondbacks: RHP Merrill Kelly had a blood clot dissolved in his right throwing shoulder on Wednesday. Manager Torey Lovullo said it was unlikely that the 31-year-old would return this season. Kelly was scratched from Monday’s start and put on the 10-day injured list with shoulder discomfort.
Rockies: Colorado will start LHP Kyle Freeland (2-1, 2.87).
Diamondbacks: RHP Zac Gallen (0-0, 2.25) takes the mound. He’s pitched very well over his six starts and 36 innings despite not having a win to show for it.
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