Gray steps up his game on Fenway stage

Rockies righty settles down after allowing a home run in the first

Gray steps up his game on Fenway stage

BOSTON -- Instead of getting overwhelmed by the enormity of the Green Monster and all the history of Fenway Park, Rockies starter Jon Gray thrived in the atmosphere during an 8-2 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"It's definitely a tough environment, it really is," Gray said. "But for me personally, I think it makes me pitch better. There's more aggressiveness in the game. You don't want to have a rough one here, that's for sure. It definitely made me sharper."

The 24-year-old right-hander went a career-high 7 1/3 innings, allowing five hits, two runs and three walks. He struck out six, throwing 62 of his 95 pitches for strikes, and Gray said he liked his changeup the most on Thursday.

Coming into the game, one of his biggest challenges was to end center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.'s 29-game hitting streak, and Gray did it with finesse.

"I definitely had it in mind," Gray said of Bradley's streak. "I knew he's been swinging the bat really well and that he was going to be a tough out; a lot of the guys were."

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One of Gray's toughest outs was slugger David Ortiz, to whom he gave up a two-run home run in the first inning. Though the blast came as a jolt for the starter, his ability to focus on remaining strong throughout the remainder of the game was important.

"I'm extremely proud," Gray said. "What makes me feel the best about it is being able to make an adjustment on the fly early. That's something I used to not be able to do."

The win was Gray's second of the season and his fourth quality start in his last five outings. He bounced back from his last start against the Cardinals, during which he allowed nine runs on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings.

"The progress for a young player, a young pitcher, is never going to be without speed bumps," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "It doesn't happen in this league. Every once in a while you have a hiccup, but the thing I look for is how you respond. Jonny, after a tough outing, came out and responded about as well as you can."

Catcher Dustin Garneau, who had a successful night at the plate with a two-run home run over the Green Monster, was equally impressed with Gray's ability to stay in the game after giving up a home run so early.

"His bounceback from the first inning. That inning and that game could've went the other way real quick," Garneau said. "He came back and just was shoving the ball. His slider was on point tonight when he was throwing it."

Deesha Thosar is a reporter for based in Boston. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.