"My first at-bat, I took a couple pitches," Rojas said of his second-inning groundout setting up his three-run double. "I went to a 3-2 count and I got the opportunity to see his two-seamer, to see his breaking ball and other pitches. I know how they pitch me. I know with runners in scoring position, they try to run that two-seamer in to try to get a ground ball, but I was ready for it. I didn't chase the ball inside. That ball was on the plate, and I put a good swing on it."
The Marlins' victory at Coors Field, which included six solid innings from starting right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne (two runs, seven hits, three strikeouts), means the Rockies' lead over the Brewers for the second National League Wild Card shrunk to 1 1/2 games. The Rockies' sixth loss in the last eight games ended with Charlie Blackmon's screaming line drive that became a double play.
"This is actually one of my favorite parks to pitch in," Despaigne said. "This ballpark makes you concentrate and focus on every pitch, and that kind of helps me out here and it keeps me concentrating and not relaxing on any one pitch or any one batter."
The Rockies -- who benefitted from Jonathan Lucroy's solo homer off Brian Ellington and Nolan Arenado's bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the seventh to cut their deficit to 5-4 -- saw their magic number to eliminate the Cardinals drop to four games. The Cubs beat the Cards, 10-2, Monday night.
Lucroy also tripled in the third. But Despaigne forced a Chatwood infield pop-up, a Blackmon grounder that couldn't score Lucroy and a DJ LeMahieu fly to right that required a Giancarlo Stanton catch against the wall, with center fielder Christian Yelich nearly colliding with him. The Rockies finished with nine hits, but were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
"We talk about it all the time, stringing hits together and getting that one big hit," said Rockies manager Bud Black, whose team was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. "They did it and we didn't."
Chatwood went five innings and yielded four runs -- all in the fourth, on three sharp-contact singles followed by Rojas' liner to left that Statcast™ measured with a 104.6-mph exit speed and landed after popping out of the glove of left fielder Ian Desmond, who had tracked the ball while taking a twisting route to the warning track.
"When I came down, I thought the ball was in my glove," Desmond said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Riding the rookie: Marlins righty Drew Steckenrider, who entered tied for second among rookie relievers in ERA, replaced Ellington with two on and one out in the seventh. LeMahieu walked and Arenado, who was back in the lineup after leaving Sunday's victory at San Diego with a slight right hand sprain, flied to center to cut the difference to one run. Then Steckenrider retired Mark Reynolds on an inning-ending foul pop-up. Steckenrider struck out the side in the eighth to improve his ERA to 2.14 and his strikeout total to 53 in 32 2/3 innings.
"We know this ballpark is a tough place to hold a lead, no matter what it is," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Steckenrider's performance. "Steck, in the eighth, when they got out of that jam and he just goes out and shuts the door. That was huge for us."
Swiss Army Knife and Wild Thing: Those are nicknames for Rockies lefty Chris Rusin and righty Carlos Estevez, respectively. They pulled the Rockies out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the eighth, with the Marlins leading, 5-4. Rusin replaced Scott Oberg and worked grounders from Tyler Moore (after a 3-0 count) and Dee Gordon that allowed the Rockies to cut down runners at the plate. Then Estevez faced Stanton, owner of 57 home runs, threw a 98-mph fastball by him, then got him to bounce to the mound on a 98.5-mph heater.
"That's the playoffs, right? Usually [it's not] the guys everybody thinks about -- [it's] those guys you don't talk about that end up doing something huge. Miggy swung the bat really well today. He made some nice plays too. The guys are battling. Claw gets his first save tonight. It was a good ball game." -- Mattingly, on the Marlins approaching the series like postseason baseball and getting big contributions from Rojas and Kyle Barraclough
"The way we played yesterday, the way we played today, battling. I mean, we're in a good spot. We're fighting. We're feeling the energy from the crowd and if we keep playing like that, we're going to win some games and we're going to get that spot." -- LeMahieu
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Rockies lefty Mike Dunn entered for one batter and retired Derek Dietrich on an infield popup. It was his 500th career appearance.
The Rockies gained an out in the sixth when Despaigne bunted Rojas to third. Lucroy's throw to third was high, but Arenado alertly fired to first with LeMahieu covering. The original call of safe was overturned after a manager's challenge.
WHAT'S NEXT Marlins:Jose Urena climbs the hill for the Marlins at 8:40 p.m. ET for the middle game of the three-game set with the Rockies. Urena has thrown over 100 pitches in five of his last six starts, and has pitched into the seventh or beyond in three of his last four starts. He has won five of his last six decisions.
Rockies: Lefty Tyler Anderson (5-6, 5.24 ERA) has gone 2-1 with a 1.72 ERA in three appearances since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 10. He'll try to push the Rockies a step closer to the postseason on Tuesday against the Marlins at 6:40 p.m. MT.