Pomeranz, Colvin lead Rockies past Nats in DC

Pomeranz, Colvin lead Rockies past Nats in DC

Pomeranz, Colvin lead Rockies past Nats in DC
WASHINGTON -- Rookie left-hander Drew Pomeranz spent Friday night delivering exactly what the Rockies expected when they traded their one-time ace for him. But his 6 1/3 scoreless, one-hit innings in a 5-1 victory over the Nationals had much more to do with what Pomeranz expected of himself.

The pregame buzz was understandably about Nationals righty Stephen Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 Draft and, at 23, already an All-Star who will represent the National League East-leading club in Tuesday night's All-Star Game.

But Pomeranz is also 23, was the fifth overall pick in 2010 by the Indians, and was the main reason the Rockies gave up 2010 All-Star pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in a major trade. Pomeranz has every reason to believe he's on even footing. But while Strasburg was building All-Star credentials, Pomeranz was spending the time between May 11 and Sunday at Triple-A Colorado Springs, searching.

Pomeranz (1-3) found within himself a potential ace, and he unleashed himself with full fury Friday. Throwing fastballs on all but seven of his 81 pitches, Pomeranz struck out six, shattered four bats, walked two and held the Nats to the softest of hits, a Bryce Harper bloop single to open the fourth. Center fielder Dexter Fowler should have caught it, but read it poorly, and actually started back before futilely coming forward.

"I was getting things right, but I was getting too mechanical," said Pomeranz, who went from 88-91 mph on his fastball at the start of this season to a consistent 92-95 on Friday. "Instead of letting it go, I was making sure, and my tempo was a little slower. Once I started doing it, I just said, 'Look, I gotta do this. Grab it and throw it.'"

The Nationals simply couldn't hit it.

"Sometimes, when you know what's coming, you're a little overly aggressive and you're swinging at pitches you can't really center on that well," Nats manager Davey Johnson said.

It was Pomeranz's second dominating start since his return. He held the Padres to one unearned run and two hits, and broke a stunning 10 bats, in a no-decision lost by his bullpen on Sunday.

Whatever Pomeranz found in Colorado Springs -- although more accurately, he found it in the mirror and spent the time in Triple-A transferring it to performance -- Rockies manager Jim Tracy likes it.

"I see not only a different pitcher right now, but I also see a different person, and that's just as important as the physical aspects that we talk about at length," Tracy said. "The person is completely different from the guy we were dealing with in Spring Training. He has a different face -- he has a different demeanor, his business-like approach has changed."

To make all that count, the Rockies' Tyler Colvin hit Strasburg (9-4). Colvin swatted a 97-mph fastball into the bullpen in right for a solo homer in the second inning. Colvin also ended an eight-pitch at-bat by lifting an 88-mph changeup over the wall in right-center for two runs in the fourth to become the first player to homer twice off Strasburg in the same game.

Colvin, much like Pomeranz, also is flourishing after a period in the wilderness. He hit .150 last year with the Cubs and was dealt to the Rockies in the offseason in a four-player deal full of guys who seemed to need a change of scenery. He seems at home now.

Colvin went 3-for-4 and improved his home run total to 13. Since June 9, he is hitting .372 (29-for-78) with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs. In his final at-bat, in the eighth against Ryan Mattheus, Colvin drove a pitch to the right-field wall, where Michael Morse made the catch to the cheers of the crowd. He is leaving all the noisemaking to others.

"I try to stay the same, not getting really excited, not getting really mad," Colvin said. "That's what makes really good players really good."

Noting that Colvin is 10-for-17 against the Nationals, as the Rockies (32-51) have won three of the teams' five meetings, Strasburg said, "Just for some reason, we've been making more mistake pitches to him than the other guys."

The switch-hitting Fowler added to his career-best homer total by hitting his 11th, off Tom Gorzelanny in the seventh. It was his third from the right side.

"They can hit and they can pitch, and with a club like that, you've got to take advantage of every opportunity," Fowler said.

All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzlaez had two hits, including a double in the eighth. Gonzalez then stole third and scored the Rockies' final run on Michael Cuddyer's sacrifice fly.

Pomeranz -- who left after freezing seventh-inning leadoff man Adam LaRoche with a 92-mph fastball -- and relievers Matt Belisle and Rex Brothers combined to keep the Nats quiet until Ryan Zimmerman's solo home run off Brothers leading off the ninth.

The Nationals threatened in the inning, forcing the Rockies to bring in closer Rafael Betancourt with two on and none out, but Betancourt recorded three outs without allowing any further damage to improve to 14-for-18 in save situations this season.

"That's how we think -- this is the way we're supposed to play every day," Gonzalez said.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.