Ubaldo edges D-backs for 11th victory

Ubaldo edges D-backs for 11th victory

PHOENIX -- Maybe this should crawl across the bottom of the TV screen: Breaking news: Rockies RHP Ubaldo Jimenez confirms he is human.

That's what it came to on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field. After 33 straight scoreless innings, Jimenez gave up a two-run Conor Jackson homer in the eighth inning, and needed the help of relievers Rafael Betancourt and Manuel Corpas to escape with a 3-2 victory over the D-backs. The Rockies averted being swept in the three-game series.

"I know I can make a mistake -- you saw that," Jimenez said with a smile.

Despite having to deal with bases loaded in the first inning (for the first time all season) -- a situation not entirely of his doing -- and whatever nerves that came with the nail-biting ending, Jimenez was machine-like once more. Jimenez struck out eight and gave up six hits to move to 11-1 with a 0.93 ERA through 12 starts. Only Dutch Leonard's 0.83 with the Red Sox in 1914 was lower through that many starts, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"You're probably going to have it in the back of your mind because you're a human being, but I'm trying not to pay too much attention to that," Jimenez said of his ERA. "I was getting ice for my arm and watching TV. They had it right away."

Jimenez's scoreless streak surpassed the 27 innings by the Mets' Mike Pelfrey from April 9 to May 1 for longest in the Majors this season, and eclipsed the 29 1/3-inning run by reliever Gabe White for the Rockies' record. The Jackson homer was just the second off him all season -- the Nationals' Adam Dunn went deep on May 15 at Coors Field -- and it ended a 26-inning scoreless run against the D-backs, dating to last season.

"He's got to be the best baseball player in the world at this moment," Rockies right fielder Brad Hawpe said. "I don't know who can argue."

Jackson's homer ended his 194-at-bat dry spell.

"Luck of the draw, I guess," Jackson said. "It was a 3-1 changeup, so it wasn't 100 [mph]. That probably helped a little bit."

The march of Jimenez, 26, into statistical history is among the hottest subjects in baseball, but he helped the Rockies with an issue closer to their hearts on Sunday.

The Rockies finish 7-5 in their dozen-game stretch against National League West foes. They now head home for seven games, four with the Astros starting Monday, followed by three in Interleague Play against the Blue Jays. (Jimenez opens the Blue Jays series on Friday night). The Rockies play 13 of their next 16 at Coors Field.

The Rockies (29-27) dropped one-run games to the D-backs on Friday and Saturday, and they didn't exactly click offensively in the finale.

Carlos Gonzalez (16-for-32 against the D-backs this season) knocked a two-run single in the sixth, and Troy Tulowitzki hit his seventh home run of the season in the seventh -- both off Rodrigo Lopez (2-4). Tulowitzki has seven home runs and 14 RBIs while hitting .324 (22-for-68) in his last 18 games.

However, the Rockies went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, after going 0-for-11 on Saturday. This was with a new lineup, with Todd Helton dropping from third to sixth, and Tulowitzki, Hawpe and Miguel Olivo each moving up one spot to third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

"We could've done more offensively today, but subconsciously you probably think you get three runs and Ubaldo's on the mound, and that's all you need," left fielder Seth Smith said.

After Jimenez, Betancourt, who entered with no outs and one on in the eighth, pitched a scoreless inning with a hit and a strikeout, and Corpas added a perfect ninth for his sixth save.

"We're two outs and a base hit from winning all three games in this series, but we move on," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said.

The D-backs threatened in the third when Augie Ojeda doubled with two outs, and in the fourth when Gerardo Parra tripled when Smith and Gonzalez nearly collided in left-center. Jimenez fanned Lopez to end the first and forced a Chris Snyder grounder to end the second threat.

But the key inning was the first. Tulowitzki booted Jackson's one-out grounder at shortstop, Adam LaRoche singled and Mark Reynolds walked.

Facing his first bases-loaded jam of the year, Jimenez forced Chris Young to ground to second baseman Clint Barmes. Tulowitzki accepted Barmes' flip, made a 360-degree turn and threw to first for a double play to keep the scoreless streak alive.

"I was thankful that he got out of it, but I knew he was going to make pitches," Tulowitzki said.

Jimenez said Tulowitzki's error was no problem.

"We're just human beings; we all make mistakes," said Jimenez, who hasn't had much cause this season to say "we."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.