Miller and Co. stellar out of Rockies' bullpen

Righty escapes jam as he and fellow relievers combine for 4 1/3 scoreless innings

Miller and Co. stellar out of Rockies' bullpen

PHOENIX -- Rockies right-handed reliever Justin Miller had a special Opening Day of his own. Miller's bases-loaded strikeout of D-backs pinch-hitter Phil Gosselin to end the fifth helped ensure Rockies shortstop Trevor Story's historic Major League debut came in a victory -- 10-5 -- Monday night.

Miller replaced fading Rockies starter Jorge De La Rosa, who gave up Jake Lamb's two-run homer in the fourth and two more runs on Yasmany Tomas' single in the fifth. De La Rosa had walked Lamb to load the bases.

The 2-2 pitch to Gosselin barely missed, but Miller attacked on the next two. Gosselin fouled the first back, then swung through the second for the rally-finishing strikeout. Miller leaped from the mound in jubilation. His effort began a scoreless 4 1/3-inning bullpen effort and made winning possible on the night Story became the first player in history to celebrate an Opening Day debut by hitting two home runs.

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"It's the first Opening Day, I'm going to be amped," Miller said.

Miller was called up from Triple-A three times last year, and was receiving late-inning calls toward the end of last year's 68-94 last-place finish in the National League West. The Rockies strengthened the bullpen by adding lefty closerJake McGee and righties Chad Qualls and Jason Motte (currently on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder) to push pitchers like Miller earlier.

Still, by preventing all but two of the 14 runners he inherited from scoring last season, Miller earned trust from manager Walt Weiss. Not only did he put down the fifth, but he pitched around two hits in the sixth. Nolan Arenado's snag of a line drive, and dive to the bag to double off Nick Ahmed, helped.

"Walt actually came up to me between innings and said, 'I know I promised I wouldn't do this, but we're at the time in the game where I've got to send you back out there,'" Miller said. "I said there's no problem. I've still got it."

Lefty Boone Logan, who has battled nagging elbow problems the last two seasons, pitched 1 2/3 spotless innings with two strikeouts. Three of the five hitters were right-handers. With Logan effective, the Rockies extended their lead on Arenado's three-run homer in the eighth.

"So much for the left-handed specialist situation," said Logan, who found himself facing mostly lefties late last season. "I don't think I had an inning-plus in what seems like forever, but it's good to get my feet wet to start the season."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.