DENVER -- Right-hander Chad Bettis shook off a four-start slump and Nolan Arenado homered for the 20th time as the Rockies beat the Yankees, 6-3, on Wednesday afternoon at Coors Field to win their fourth straight and eighth in the last 10 games.
Bettis, who had gone 0-3 with an 11.57 ERA in his previous four outings, held the Yankees to three runs (two earned) on seven hits, with five strikeouts in six innings. At a time when Tyler Chatwood and rookie Jon Gray are rolling, veteran lefty Jorge De La Rosa is finding his form and lefty Tyler Anderson is coming off a rousing Major League debut, Bettis knew it was time to produce.
"I didn't want to get left behind -- that's always in the back of somebody's head, especially when struggling for four outings," said Bettis, whose effort helped the Rockies close a 5-1 homestand and pull to a game below .500 at 32-33.
Arenado's two-run homer off Yankees starter Ivan Nova was part of a four-run fifth that helped the Rockies gain a sweep of the two-game set. DJ LeMahieu went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs, falling a homer shy of the cycle.
Nova gave up five runs on a season-high 10 hits as the Yankees dropped their fourth straight, falling into the American League East basement. Aaron Hicks had two hits and an RBI, while Starlin Castro also knocked in a run for the Bombers, who were swept in the two-game Interleague series at Coors Field and dropped to 4-7 here all time.
"This is an important month," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We can't keep having months where we're not making up ground. If you're losing ground, it's going to be tough to catch up. These are months that we have to play better than the teams that are in front of us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Multifaceted answer: The Yankees took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth, but the Rockies regained the advantage with small ball and power in the fifth. Charlie Blackmon drew a Nova walk and stole second to set up LeMahieu's RBI single. Arenado's homer to left field made it 4-2, and Trevor Story doubled and scored on Mark Reynolds' single.
Pleading the fifth: The four runs that Nova permitted in the fifth inning represented the continuation of a trend this year for the right-hander, who has been struggling the second and third times through the batting order. Through eight starts, Nova has held opponents to a 1.87 ERA in innings 1-3, but has seen that mark inflate to 7.25 from the fourth inning on, allowing 15 earned runs in 22 1/3 innings.
"I was throwing the ball right over the plate and they took advantage of it," Nova said. "I wasn't able to locate my pitches like I was supposed to. I'm just trying to do the same thing I was trying to do the whole game. That inning, I made two mistakes and it caught me." More >
Bettis flips script: Bettis made three straight quality starts from April 10-20. But then he slumped because he struggled the more he saw hitters. Going into Wednesday afternoon, opponents hit .236 the first time through the order, .333 the second and .338 the third. On Wednesday, he was perfect the first time through. It appeared to be the same old story when the Yankees had four hits and two runs the second time through.
But the Yankees managed just three hits and one run the third time. Bettis and catcher Tony Wolters focused on being less predictable and executing. Bettis loves throwing a cut fastball, but hitters have been expecting it, and they were jumping on fastballs in fastball counts that leaked over the plate.
"Maybe a little bit more [fastballs and curveballs], but enough to keep them off balance," Bettis said.
"CarGo has had great at-bats lately -- he's not scared to hit the ball the other way and he's hitting mistakes over the fence. DJ has had really good at-bats -- hitting behind the runner to move him over, and he was rewarded with RBIs. And our pitching is getting outs when we need it. We can put it all together." -- Blackmon, on the fact the Rockies are winning with smart baseball
THAT'S A WARNING
Home-plate umpire Gabe Morales warned both benches in the top of the seventh inning after Colorado's Miguel Castro threw a fastball high and tight to Austin Romine. In the bottom of the sixth inning, LeMahieu had been struck in the bill of the helmet by a pitch from the Yankees' Anthony Swarzak. LeMahieu stayed in the game. Yankees reliever Dellin Betances threw a knuckle curve high and inside to Reynolds in the bottom of the seventh, but no action was taken.
"I thought [the warning] was warranted," Girardi said. "Only [Castro] knows, but it looked awful suspicious to me. If you're trying to send a message, I get that. But it's got to be down. It can't be around someone's head. We're not trying to hit anyone in the head. I'm nervous for [LeMahieu] when he gets hit. If you're trying to send a warning, if you're trying to protect your guys, I'm OK with that. But it better be around his rear end and not his head."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:CC Sabathia gets the call on Thursday as the Yankees open a four-game series against the Twins at Target Field, with first pitch set for 8:10 p.m. ET. Sabathia's renaissance continued in his last start as he hurled seven scoreless innings in a victory over the Tigers, and he has posted a 0.71 ERA with over his last six starts, spanning 38 innings.
Rockies: Jon Gray will take the mound for the Rockies on Friday at 5:10 p.m. MT in Miami, looking to extend his streak of four consecutive quality starts. Gray has only allowed seven earned runs over his last 27 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA from 6.75 to 4.70. In his last start, he held the Padres to three runs (one earned) on four hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts.