Arenado ignites Rox by ending homer drought

Arenado ignites Rox by ending homer drought

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado punched the air as he rounded first base, and floated until he could greet teammates at home plate with smiling, full-force high fives. Yet, his 27th homer of the season was less a release than a relief.

Arenado's three-run, first-inning homer off Dodgers starter Brock Stewart began a 2-for-3 night and the Rockies' five-homer barrage in their 12-2 victory over the Dodgers on Wednesday night.

Statistically, the homer ended a 40 at-bat homerless spell and the performance broke a 2-for-23 slump. But Arenado, a perfectionist whose homer was welcome because he wore the strain of the slump on his face for several days, isn't ready to call himself cured.

"I'm battling," Arenado said, still smiling. "It's a grind. Every at-bat has been a grind. I'm still going out there and trying to do my thing.

"When you feel good, it feels like it comes easy. It's not coming that easy right now. Yesterday I hit the ball hard. To be able to have good, quality at-bats today was nice."

Not everyone can launch a ball a projected 432 feet, according to Statcast™, over the left-center wall and still feel he's not quite right.

But what feels better is Arenado can bask in a surge for his team while finding his best form.

Mark Reynolds homered later in the first inning, DJ LeMahieu homered in the fifth and Carlos Gonzalez homered in the fifth and sixth innings as the Rockies improved to a Majors-best 14-5 since the All-Star break. They're also three games out of the second National League Wild Card spot and thinking big.

Even more, they're having so much fun. Before Wednesday's game, most of the club delayed going out for pregame stretching because they were watching the Marlins -- another Wild Card contender, and the Rockies' next opponent Friday through Sunday -- blow a late lead in a loss to the Cubs.

"We're only seven back in our own division," Arenado said about the Rockies chasing the NL West-leading Giants and the Dodgers, who hold the first Wild Card but must avoid being swept at Coors on Thursday. "It's nice coming to the ballpark with a chance, and you never know what can happen. Last year at this point it was just like we were hoping to get by."

Arenado's 27 homers tie him for the NL lead with teammate with Trevor Story, who will undergo surgery Thursday to repair a left thumb ligament and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. So manager Walt Weiss has been expecting the power to return.

"I don't worry too much about Nolan," Weiss said. "He's going to fight his way out of it. Nobody stays locked in for six months. There's going to be some ebb and flow. Nolan doesn't stay down too long."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. 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.