Rox let five-run lead slip away, fall in extras

Rox let five-run lead slip away, fall in extras

Rox let five-run lead slip away, fall in extras
DENVER -- These wild games will get old in a hurry for the Rockies if poor starting pitching continues to be the driving force for the excitement.

Colorado built a five-run first-inning lead against Braves starter Tim Hudson, only to watch Guillermo Moscoso give up six runs in 4 1/3 innings. From there the game became a roller-coaster that ended in a 9-8 Braves victory, on Eric Hinske's two-run homer off reliever Edgmer Escalona in the 11th inning on Friday night at Coors Field.

In the bottom of the 11th, Todd Helton's groundout accounted for his third RBI of the night before Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the game at the four-hour mark. The crowd of 33,184 had Moscoso to thank for a long night of thrills.

"The effort tonight, again, A-plus, that's all you can say about it; we left it all out there," manager Jim Tracy said. "But the unfortunate thing, as far as I'm concerned, is when you face a starter of the caliber of Tim Hudson, to ding him as badly as we did in the first inning of the game and then let them get back in ... 4 1/3 innings from the starting pitcher, roughly as many balls as there were strikes. And as a result of the outing we let them back into the game and used more bullpen innings than starter innings."

The Rockies fell to 3-4 on a homestand full of late-inning action but lacking in early-game efficiency. Just twice has the starter lasted more than five innings. Jhoulys Chacin pitched his way to a demotion to Triple-A Colorado Springs with a bad outing Tuesday night in a 7-6 loss to the Dodgers. Moscoso, having given up 12 earned runs in 9 1/3 innings in two starts on the homestand, is in danger of ending up back in Triple-A.

The Rockies have scored 57 runs in the seven games. Take out 18 in the opening victory against the Mets and they're still averaging 6.5 per game. That won't last forever, even for a team that plays at hitter-friendly Coors.

Helton's bases-loaded, two-run single, a Cuddyer RBI single and a Dexter Fowler two-run single gave Moscoso his cushion in the first.

Jonathan Herrera hit his second homer of the season, off Hudson with one out in the fifth. Helton led off the sixth with a double -- the 561st of his career, which moved him ahead of Eddie Murray and Jeff Kent for 21st all time -- and scored when Tyler Colvin beat out a relay throw to avoid an inning-ending double play. All that would prove insufficient.

"It's going to happen," said Helton, whose diving catch of Freddie Freeman's liner in the 10th prevented the Braves from taking a lead. "We've just got to keep battling away. Sometimes that's not going to be right. But we've got to score more runs than the opposing team. We have confidence that we're going to win every game."

Hudson left with a career 8.04 ERA at Coors in five starts. Friday was the first time he didn't take a loss.

"I was definitely confident," Hudson said. "There is usually always a crazy game here."

Freeman homered for two runs in the third. It was his fourth of the season and his seventh homer in nine career games against the Rockies. He finished with four hits.

But Moscoso compounded his troubles with his meltdown in the fifth -- after the Rockies thought they had Michael Bourn out on a bunt, only for the umpires to reverse their decision and call it a foul ball.

Bourn singled, as did Chipper Jones (who later homered), Freeman and Brian McCann, and Moscoso uncorked a wild pitch somewhere in there that hit the backstop practically on the fly. Hinske's double off reliever Matt Reynolds gave the Braves a 6-5 lead.

"Definitely after that play, the whole game changed," Moscoso said. "The next three guys, those weren't really bad pitches. They were really good pitches. They were swinging early."

Tracy argued the call. The rest was Moscoso's job.

"You're ahead, 5-2," Tracy said. "I did what I had to do, argued what I saw, and the next thing you know the game is tied and they end up taking a 6-5 lead with a four-run inning. That's what can't happen."

Braves pitcher Chad Durbin (2-0) walked Fowler and Chris Nelson with two out in the 10th before coaxing a Wilin Rosario popup. Craig Kimbrel worked around a leadoff walk to Herrera, a Troy Tulowitzki single and Helton's run-scoring grounder for his ninth save.

Braves pinch-hitter Tyler Pastornicky singled on the first pitch from Escalona (0-1) in the 11th. Escalona fell behind 2-0 to Hinske.

"My best pitch is a sinker," Escalona said. "It didn't move."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.